Those with hopes for an early economic recovery should take a close look at what has happened to the Fortune 500 in 2008. America's 500 biggest companies earned $98.9 billion, down 85 percent from $645.2 billion the previous year. "And 128 companies on the list had losses, totalling $519.3 billion. The previous year, just 57 Fortune 500 companies lost money, for a total of $116.7 billion," Fortune said in its just published annual review.

Energy companies - Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Conoco Phillips - captured three of the five top spots on the list with Wal-Mart number two and  and Geneeral Electric fifth.

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The biggest losers formed a who's who of businesses cratered by the credit crisis - AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lost $99.3 billion, $58.7 billion and $50.1 billion, respectively. They were trailed by General Motors ($30.9 billion), Citigroup ($27.7 billion), Merrill Lynch ($27.6 billion).

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