In the aftermath of the credit crunch, many commentators got revved-up about the banks having become "too big to fail". If these giant institutions fell, they would bring a large chunk of the economy down with them.

The fear was quite real. During the global credit crunch hit, governments were forced to step in and prevent the cash points closing.

Rather less attention, however, has been paid to the US government bail out of the domestic car industry.

When General Motors and Chrysler went bang in the midst of the credit crunch, President Obama formed a nine-man bailout team to deal with consequences.

Last week Steven Rattner, Obama’s ‘car czar’ (whose casting vote - creating a 5-4 result - saved Chrysler from the financial junk yard) told the BBC that the US government’s £50 billion bailout was vital for the whole US economy.

Allowing GM and Chrysler to go under would have caused a collapse of the US component supply industry which, in turn, would have swept away Ford and other foreign-owned car US factories.

Rattner estimated that "two or three million jobs would have gone in an instant". Something of the same magnitude happened in the UK 35 years ago.