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Aside from the words “subprime,” “financial recession,” and “job layoffs,” “bankruptcy” seems to be a popular, infamous word these days. Bankruptcy is simply the inability of an individual or company to pay its creditors. At present we hear news reports almost everyday about a certain company filing for bankruptcy.

What were the major bankruptcies in 2008? The list below identifies companies with the biggest assets involved in a bankruptcy filing last year.

20 Largest Public Company Bankruptcy Filings in 2008

Company Bankruptcy Date Assets ($ million)
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. 09/15/08 691,063
Washington Mutual, Inc. 09/26/08 327,913
IndyMac Bancorp, Inc. 07/31/08 32,734
Downey Financial Corp. 11/25/08 13,409
Tribune Company 12/08/08 13,149
Fremont General Corporation 06/18/08 12,890
SemGroup, L.P. 07/22/08 6,140
Franklin Bank Corp. 11/12/08 5,537
Luminent Mortgage Capital, Inc. 09/05/08 4,721
PFF Bancorp, Inc. 12/05/08 4,102
Pilgrim's Pride Corporation 12/01/08 3,874
LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. 11/26/08 3,853
Circuit City Stores, Inc. 11/10/08 3,745
WCI Communities, Inc. 08/04/08 2,891
TOUSA, Inc. 01/29/08 2,842
VeraSun Energy Corporation 10/31/08 1,863
Linens 'n Things, Inc. 05/02/08 1,740
Tropicana Entertainment, LLC 05/05/08 1,734
Quebecor World (USA), Inc. 01/21/08 1,731
Hawaiian Telcom Communications, Inc. 12/01/08 1,637

Source: BankruptcyData.com

Bankruptcy leads to layoff and unemployment, snowballing into reduced consumer spending and, ultimately, slower economic growth. If bankruptcies continue indefinitely, then this current financial recession we are experiencing will probably last for some more time. So be ready.

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Short description of bankrupt companies

1. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

A global financial-services firm that did business in investment banking, equity and fixed-income sales, research and trading, investment management, private equity, and private banking. Its bankruptcy filing is the largest in US history, involving debt amounting to $613 billion and assets worth $639 billion.

2. Washington Mutual, Inc.

A savings bank holding company and former owner of Washington Mutual Bank, then the largest savings and loan association in the US.

3. IndyMac Bancorp, Inc.

Holding company of IndyMac Bank, the largest savings and loan association in the Los Angeles area and seventh largest mortgage originator in the US during its time.

4. Downey Financial Corp.

Holding company for Downey Savings and Loan Association which provides various financial services to individual and corporate customers.

5. Tribune Company

Second-largest newspaper publisher in the US which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Morning Call, among others. Through other subsidiaries, the Tribune Company also owns Tribune Broadcasting, Tribune Entertainment, Tribune Media Services, and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

6. Fremont General Corporation

A financial services holding company that owns, among others, a California bank subsidiary, Fremont Investment & Loan, which provides various financial services.

7. SemGroup Energy Partners, L.P.

Provides terminalling, storage, gathering, and transportation services for companies engaged in the production, distribution, and marketing of crude oil.

8. Franklin Bank Corp.

Bank holding company for Franklin Bank, S.S.B., a savings bank that provided community banking products and services, and commercial banking services to corporations and other business clients, and originates single family residential mortgage loans primarily in Texas.

9. Luminent Mortgage Capital Inc.

A real estate investment trust (REIT) in the United States.

10. PFF Bancorp Inc.

A diversified financial services firm.

11. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation

Producer of poultry products.

12. LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc.

Insurance underwriter.

13. Circuit City Stores, Inc.

Retailer of consumer electronics.

14. WCI Communities, Inc.

Homebuilding and real estate services company.

15. TOUSA, Inc.

Home builder.

16. VeraSun Energy Corporation

Producer of ethanol.

17. Linens ‘n Things, Inc.

Home furnishings retailer.

18. Tropicana Entertainment, LLC

Casino hotels.

19. Quebecor World (USA), Inc.

Commercial printing services.

20. Hawaiian Telcom Communications, Inc.

Telecommunications provider.

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