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Visualizing the Financial Stress of Firms in the United States

Reuters data visualizations – Falling Angels?: “Data show how debt has U.S. companies on the edge of danger. The pandemic may push them over. U.S. companies have amassed roughly $10 trillion of debt since 2001, taking advantage of more than a decade of low interest rates and economic expansion. More than half of corporate bonds are classified by ratings agencies as risky, known as junk. An additional 30% are hovering one notch above. As the economy effectively shuts down to combat the coronavirus, the U.S. Federal Reserve has pledged trillions of dollars to keep cash in the credit markets flowing. That support, however, is only available to companies with investment-grade debt. Companies on the line just above junk could be exposed if their debt is downgraded, as seems almost certain given the unprecedented state of the economy. Already in March Standard & Poor’s has issued hundreds of ratings actions, including consigning Ford Motor Co to junk last week. That leaves such “fallen angels,” as they are known on Wall Street, in a difficult situation…”

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