Bank of America is the biggest bank in America and one of the ten largest banks in the world. BofA has been the target of much recent criticism for its extensive involvement in the subprime lending markets that precipitated the current recession and for a shotgun merger with Merrill Lynch that critics say damaged the bank's share value.
For decades General Motors held a commanding position in the motor vehicle industry. After emerging from the consolidation of various carmakers, parts producers, and other operations early in the 20th century, GM went on to become the cornerstone of the U.S. economy. It was widely believed, as GM President Charles “Engine Charlie” Wilson famously told Congress, that “what was good for our country was good for General Motors--and vice versa.” GM also had far-flung operations outside the United States, making it the world’s largest automaker.
Before it collapsed, AIG, as measured by asset value, was the largest insurer in the world. But in September 2008, after its credit rating went down, AIG was caught without enough collateral for the credit default swaps it had sold to banks around the world, and was forced to accept a massive federal bailout package in order to forestall a collapse. As the size of the company's debts have grown, the U.S. government has readjusted the terms of the bailout, and gradually begun to take over parts of the company.