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History of U.S. Gov’t Bailouts

The circles below represent the relative size of each U.S. government bailout of American corporations (and one city), calculated in 2008 dollars. They are in chronological order. | Related: Bailout Tracker: Tracking every dollar and every recipient »

  Industry/Corporation Year What Happened Size in 2008 U.S. Dollars
Penn Central Railroad 1970 In May 1970, Penn Central Railroad, then on the verge of bankruptcy, appealed to the Federal Reserve for aid on the grounds that it provided crucial national defense transportation services. The Nixon administration and the Federal Reserve supported providing financial assistance to Penn Central, but Congress refused to adopt the measure. Penn Central declared bankruptcy on June 21, 1970, which freed the corporation from its commercial paper obligations. To counteract the devastating ripple effects to the money market, the Federal Reserve Board told commercial banks it would provide the reserves needed to allow them to meet the credit needs of their customers. (What happened after the bailout?) $3.2 billion
Lockheed 1971 In August 1971, Congress passed the Emergency Loan Guarantee Act, which could provide funds to any major business enterprise in crisis. Lockheed was the first recipient. Its failure would have meant significant job loss in California, a loss to the GNP and an impact on national defense. (What happened after the bailout?) $1.4 billion
Franklin National Bank 1974 In the first five months of 1974 the bank lost $63.6 million. The Federal Reserve stepped in with a loan of $1.75 billion. (What happened after the bailout?) $7.8 billion
New York City 1975 During the 1970s, New York City became over-extended and entered a period of financial crisis. In 1975 President Ford signed the New York City Seasonal Financing Act, which released $2.3 billion in loans to the city. (What happened after the bailout?) $9.4 billion
Chrysler 1980 In 1979 Chrysler suffered a loss of $1.1 billion. That year the corporation requested aid from the government. In 1980 the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act was passed, which provided $1.5 billion in loans to rescue Chrysler from insolvency. In addition, the government's aid was to be matched by U.S. and foreign banks. (What happened after the bailout?) $4.0 billion
Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company 1984 Then the nation's eighth largest bank, Continental Illinois had suffered significant losses after purchasing $1 billion in energy loans from the failed Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma. The FDIC and Federal Reserve devised a plan to rescue the bank that included replacing the bank's top executives. (What happened after the bailout?) $9.5 billion
Savings & Loan 1989 After the widespread failure of savings and loan institutions, President George H. W. Bush signed and Congress enacted the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act in 1989. (What happened after the bailout?) $293.3 billion
Airline Industry 2001 The terrorist attacks of September 11 crippled an already financially troubled industry. To bail out the airlines, President Bush signed into law the Air Transportation Safety and Stabilization Act, which compensated airlines for the mandatory grounding of aircraft after the attacks. The act released $5 billion in compensation and an additional $10 billion in loan guarantees or other federal credit instruments. (What happened after the bailout?) $18.6 billion
Bear Stearns 2008 JP Morgan Chase and the federal government bailed out Bear Stearns when the financial giant neared collapse. JP Morgan purchased Bear Stearns for $236 million; the Federal Reserve provided a $30 billion credit line to ensure the sale could move forward. $30 billion
Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac 2008 On Sep. 7, 2008, Fannie and Freddie were essentially nationalized: placed under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Under the terms of the rescue, the Treasury has invested billions to cover the companies' losses. Initially, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson put a ceiling of $100 billion for investments in each company. In February, Tim Geithner raised it to $200 billion. The money was authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. $400 billion
American International Group (A.I.G.) 2008 On four separate occasions, the government has offered aid to AIG to keep it from collapsing, rising from an initial $85 billion credit line from the Federal Reserve to a combined $180 billion effort between the Treasury ($70 billion) and Fed ($110 billion). ($40 billion of the Treasury’s commitment is also included in the TARP total.) $180 billion
Auto Industry 2008 In late September 2008, Congress approved a more than $630 billion spending bill, which included a measure for $25 billion in loans to the auto industry. These low-interest loans are intended to aid the industry in its push to build more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles. The Detroit 3 -- General Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- will be the primary beneficiaries. $25 billion
Troubled Asset Relief Program 2008 In October 2008, Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which authorized the Treasury Department to spend $700 billion to combat the financial crisis. Treasury has been doling out the money via an alphabet soup of different programs. Here’s our running tally of companies getting TARP funds. $700 billion
Citigroup 2008 Citigroup received a $25 billion investment through the TARP in October and another $20 billion in November. (That $45 billion is also included in the TARP total.) Additional aid has come in the form of government guarantees to limit losses from a $301 billion pool of toxic assets. In addition to the Treasury's $5 billion commitment, the FDIC has committed $10 billion and the Federal Reserve up to about $220 billion. $280 billion
Bank of America 2009 Bank of America has received $45 billion through the TARP, which includes $10 billion originally meant for Merrill Lynch. (That $45 billion is also included in the TARP total.) In addition, the government has made guarantees to limit losses from a $118 billion pool of troubled assets. In addition to the Treasury's $7.5 billion commitment, the FDIC has committed $2.5 billion and the Federal Reserve up to $87.2 billion. $142.2 billion