The federal government is likely to take a loss on General Motors in the first offering of the automaker's stock, Reuters reports.

Last month, GM filed paperwork for an IPO that could potentially be worth as much as $20 billion. The company is hoping for a stock debut on November 18, according to Reuters sources.

That's well below the company's $50 billion bail-out. Analysts say the company is worth between $50 billion and $90 billion, but IPOs typically price at a discount to reward investors who take risks on a new issue - particularly in a tough economy.

As a result, Reuters says, it could take years to determine if the public lost money on the bail-out as the Treasury sells down its remaining stake over three years or more.