Largest U.S. Bankruptcies, 1980–Present

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Filing away some of America's biggest IOUs

Bankruptcy is the legal process of getting out of insolvency. Insolvency is when a person or business is incapable of paying back its debts. These debts can be owed to many different people and under many different terms. As a result, bankruptcies are negotiated and handled on a case by case basis to ensure the best outcome for lenders and for debtors. This often means bailing a company out so that they can keep operating, since them failing would have a worse outcome for everyone.

Sometimes, companies that go bankrupt can still have baffling amounts of assets. This was especially true during the market crash of 2008. These are the largest bankruptcy filings in U.S. history, as of 2020. 


Worldcom corporate headquarters in Clinton, Miss.

Source: AP Photo/Rogelio Solis

Company Bankruptcy

Total assets


(in millions)
Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. 9/15/2008 $691,063
Washington Mutual, Inc. 9/26/2008 327,913
Worldcom, Inc.1 7/21/2002 103,914
General Motors Corporation 6/1/2009 91,047
CIT Group Inc. 11/1/2009 80,448
Enron Corp.2 12/2/2001 65,503
Conseco, Inc. 12/17/2002 61,392
MF Global Holdings Ltd. 10/31/2011 40,541
Chrysler LLC 4/30/2009 39,940
Thornburg Mortgage, Inc. 5/1/2009 36,521
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. 4/06/2001 36,152
Texaco, Inc. 4/12/1987 34,940
Financial Corp. of America 9/9/1988 33,864
Refco Inc. 10/17/2005 33,333
IndyMac Bancorp, Inc. 7/31/2008 32,734
Global Crossing Ltd. 1/28/2002 30,185
Bank of New England Corp. 1/7/1991 29,773
General Growth Properties, Inc. 4/16/2009 29,773
Lyondell Chemical Company 1/6/2009 27,392
Calpine Corp. 12/20/2005 27,216
1. Worldcom, Inc. assets taken from the audited annual report dated 12/31/2001.
2. The Enron assets were taken from the tax documents filed on 11/19/2001. The company has announced that the financials were under review at the time of filing for Chapter 11.
Source: New Generation Research, Inc. Web: .



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