It's easy to look at the bailouts and bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler as a big-government bonanza. Some even see tints of socialism in the loans and subsequent government ownership stakes. But as Ford points out today, there was more at stake than just two companies.

The entire industry, and in some ways, the entire U.S. economy, was riding on the survival of GM and Chrysler, says Ford Motor Co executive chairman Bill Ford, Jr. "It would have been so catastrophic to have a supply-base meltdown because it would have brought down all the auto manufacturers and frankly some other industries as well," Ford told CNBC TV according to an Automotive News report.

A cascading chain of bankruptcies was one of the primary fears of an unassisted GM or Chrysler bankruptcy. Because so many companies rely on GM and Chrysler to purchase their parts, and because there's no easy replacement outlet for those parts, there's no way for the supplier base to survive without them.

Ford cautions that the fix remains in a state of flux, however, and that further action, including direct supplier support, should be taken.