Market Overview

MF Global: One of the Biggest Bankruptcies Ever

My motto is, if you're going to fail, you may as well fail spectacularly.

It appears that former New Jersey Senator and Governor Jon Corzine lives by the same motto. Corzine, who for now is the CEO of MF Global (NYSE: MF), has to be living out a Halloween nightmare today, as his company filed for bankruptcy.

As Benzinga reported earlier this morning, MF Global filed for bankruptcy protection after seeing its stock price drop 70 percent since August. This disaster was brought on because the firm was heavily invested in the European sovereign debt market, which got absolutely rocked this year. Reports indicate that the company had invested nearly $6 billion in the market, which qualifies Corzine for one giant "oopsie".

At the time of the filing, MF Global was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 billion dollars. Shockingly enough, this staggering sum barely qualifies as one of the top ten bankruptcies of all time. Here's the rundown on the twenty biggest bankruptcies of all time, according to bankruptcydata.com

  • Lehman Brothers Holdings went bankrupt on 09/15/08, with assets of $691 billion
  • Washington Mutual went bankrupt on 09/26/08, with assets of $327 billion
  • WorldCom went bankrupt on 07/21/02, with assets of $103 billion
  • General Motors Corporation went bankrupt on 06/01/09, with assets of $91 billion
  • CIT Group went bankrupt on 11/01/09, with assets of $80 billion
  • Enron Corp went bankrupt on 12/02/01, with assets of $65 billion
  • Conseco went bankrupt on 12/17/02, with assets of $61 billion
  • Global MF went bankrupt on 10/31/11, with assets of appx $40 billion
  • Chrysler LLC went bankrupt on 04/30/09, with assets of $39 billion
  • Thornburg Mortgage went bankrupt on 05/01/09, with assets of $36 billion
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company went bankrupt on 04/06/01, with assets of $36 billion
  • Texaco went bankrupt on 04/12/87, with assets of 34 $billion
  • Financial Corp. of America went bankrupt on 09/09/88, with assets of $33 billion
  • Refco went bankrupt on 10/17/05, with assets of $33 billion
  • IndyMac Bancorp went bankrupt on 07/31/08, with assets of $32 billion
  • Global Crossing went bankrupt on 01/28/02, with assets of $30 billion
  • Bank of New England went bankrupt on 01/07/91, with assets of $29 billion
  • General Growth Properties went bankrupt on 04/16/09, with assets of $29 billion
  • Lyondell Chemical Company went bankrupt on 01/06/09, with assets of $27 billion
  • Calpine Corporation went bankrupt on 12/20/05, with assets of $27 billion

Even though they only come in at #8 on this list, their placement has to be qualified with the spectacular fall from grace that earned them the bankruptcy. Jon Corzine has only been CEO of the firm since last year.

Considering that the company originally started in the 1780s, it's unimaginable that one CEO could step in and unravel hundreds of years of history within a year. That's just unfathomable, isn't it? Considering he's from New Jersey, I think MF Global was expecting Tony Soprano as their leader. Instead, they got Tony Sparano, the clueless head coach of the Miami Dolphins. That's a $40 billion difference.

If Corzine and Global MF want to be number one, they'll have to step up their game for the next time they file bankruptcy. That is, of course, assuming they survive this round of "haha, creditors". With Europe teetering on the edge of collapse, does anyone even want to buy a firm so heavily leveraged in the European debt market? I suppose we'll see. For now, the firm is a $40 punchline to its own joke.

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To comment on this (or any of my columns), visit my user page at Benzinga. You can also reach me by email john@benzinga.com or on twitter @johndthorpe.

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