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Reproduced from S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. corporate bankruptcies have risen in 2020 — already reaching the highest number at this point in the year since 2010 — but the pace remains well behind what was seen during the Great Recession.

Why it matters: The increased pace of bankruptcies has grabbed headlines in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but is quaint compared to what took place from 2007–2009. In fact, there have been fewer bankruptcies so far in 2020 than in 2006 and in 2005, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

By the numbers: A total of 470 companies have gone bankrupt as of Sept. 7.

  • However, there were 608 bankruptcies through Sept. 7, 2010.
  • 1,108 bankruptcies by Sept. 7, 2006.
  • 610 bankruptcies by Sept. 7, 2005.

There were 2,747 bankruptcies through Sept. 7 and 4,095 by year-end in 2007; 3,247 through Sept. 7 and 5,268 by year-end in 2008; and 4,025 through Sept. 7 and 4,988 by year-end in 2009.

What to watch: The reduced number of bankruptcies is good for individual companies but is largely a result of the Fed flooding markets with liquidity and keeping U.S. interest rates at extremely low levels.

  • That is allowing inefficient companies to stay in business and weighing down overall U.S. productivity, many economists argue.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The global investment slump

Data: IEA; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

A few days ago the International Energy Agency updated its analysis of the pandemic-fueled decline in investment.

Driving the news: IEA now sees global industry investment on the upstream (exploration and production) side falling by 35% this year, a slightly steeper drop than their prior analysis in May.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.