Call it the year of living governmentally. As was the case a year ago, our latest Dealmakers of the Year mostly worked with failing companies in sectors kept alive by federal IV drips. First among them is the auto industry. The Delphi bankruptcy is the subject of our cover story; elsewhere we discuss General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and the Obama administration’s auto task force. The financial services industry is represented too, in the form of fallout from the commercial real estate and securitization bubbles and wreckage from the credit default swap debacle. Section 363 has a starring role, as do debtor-in-possession bankruptcy arrangements and assertive creditors committees.

This was often grim work: liquidating assets, eliminating product lines, and renegotiating union benefit packages, under the gaze of an impatient nation. But it was also crucial work: As the economy careened toward a crash landing, our dealmakers tried to soften the blow. (Pictured above right: Jack Butler, Skadden Arps)