General Motors has appointed Mary Barra as its new chief executive. The current global product chief will become the first female CEO of a major automaker. Outgoing CEO Dan Akerson described Barra, who has spent her entire career at GM, as one of the most gifted executives he has ever worked with. She takes the reins as GM exits a five-year government bailout. The company has recently improved its performance, thanks in part to Barra’s expansion of GM’s presence in Europe. All the same, the manufacturer is a long way from regaining its status as a global leader.