American Express had a huge growth run in the mid-'90s, but managing through the downturn will be a daunting challenge. Spending by Amex cardholders dropped 10% in the last quarter of 2008, and Amex's earnings took a deep dive. Not long after Lehman Brothers failed, Amex announced plans to slash its workforce by 10% and it converted to a bank holding company, allowing it access to billions in government bailout funds.
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