Largest U.S. Bankruptcies, 1980–Present

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


Total assets


(in millions)
Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.9/15/2008$691,063
Washington Mutual, Inc.9/26/2008327,913
Worldcom, Inc.17/21/2002103,914
General Motors Corporation6/1/200991,047
CIT Group Inc.11/1/200980,448
Enron Corp.212/2/200165,503
Conseco, Inc.12/17/200261,392
MF Global Holdings Ltd.10/31/201140,541
Chrysler LLC4/30/200939,940
Thornburg Mortgage, Inc.5/1/200936,521
Pacific Gas and Electric Co.4/06/200136,152
Texaco, Inc.4/12/198734,940
Financial Corp. of America9/9/198833,864
Refco Inc.10/17/200533,333
IndyMac Bancorp, Inc.7/31/200832,734
Global Crossing Ltd.1/28/200230,185
Bank of New England Corp.1/7/199129,773
General Growth Properties, Inc.4/16/200929,773
Lyondell Chemical Company1/6/200927,392
Calpine Corp.12/20/200527,216
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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