Rob Haines, an analyst at bond research firm CreditSights, says a government investment in the life insurance sector makes sense because life insurers buy lots of corporate bonds. If insurers are healthy, they can in turn supply credit to other industries.

The GMAC approval also bodes well for other financial companies whose status as banks is less than obvious. Among these is Discover Financial Services ( DFS). The lender has received preliminary approval to become a bank holding company, but has not received any federal funds so far.

Rival American Express ( AXP) in November made the switch to bank holding company status and received approval for $3.4 billion in TARP funds last week. Investment banks Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Morgan Stanley ( MS), who were among the initial recipients of TARP investments, were granted bank holding company status in September.

Discover spokesman Jon Drummond says the credit card company estimates it is eligible for $400 million to $1.2 billion.

If you liked this article you might like

How to Travel in Style Exactly Like Billionaire Warren Buffett

What I Learned After Driving the Beastly Cadillac CTS-V - Sexism Is Alive, Baby

Tesla Model 3 Waiting List Is Insane Just Like These Other Hot Cars

Volkswagen Tiguan Named Top Compact SUV Under $35,000

How to Live Just Like Billionaire Warren Buffett