Both automakers seem to be a on a surer footing than before the last recession.
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Ford and General Motors (GM) have both gone on the record to say they have cash on hand, and plans in place to deal with a potential recession.

At a recent conference in New York, Dhivya Suryadevara, the chief financial officer of GM, told Reuters the automaker has cash reserves of around US$18 billion ($26.55b).

According to Suryadevara, the company isn't expecting a downturn in the immediate future, but will continue to do modelling for both moderate and severe recessions so it is prepared for the eventuality.

The CFO says GM's recession plans could include deferring non-essential spending and preferencing less expensive vehicles.

Matt Fields, Ford's CFO, said the automaker has a US$20 billion ($29b) cash pile to help see it through rough economic times.

The Blue Oval is "proactively" assessing its next steps, and is working with economists to figure out how severe the next recession will be.

Despite making healthy profits, both GM and Ford have slashed headcount and closed plants. The two automakers have also cut unprofitable models, and shown a very clear preference for crossovers and SUVs.

During the past week global stock markets went into a panic as the China-US trade war intensified, poor economic data came out of Germany, and the US government bond yield curve inverted — or tipped in favour of short term bonds — and sent global stock markets into a panic.

Historically the yield curve has been an accurate predictor of recessions, although its inversion usually happens a year to 18 months in advance of a severe downturn.

The latest major global recession in 2008 pushed all three American automakers to the brink of financial collapse.

Both GM and Chrysler, which were burdened by generous pension plans and ranges skewed towards to high cost and thirsty SUVs, went over the edge, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Ford, thanks to loans acquired before the economy tanked, was able to make it through without a government-funded bailout.