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Data: Institute of International Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Chinese government had put plans in place to reduce the high levels of debt in the country's economy this year, but the negative economic effects of the trade war have put those plans on the back burner and companies are again levering up, in large part with dollar-denominated debt.

Why it matters: As the yuan weakens, debts held in dollars get more expensive. That could pose a major problem for China should the economy continue to slow. It would also mean problems for the rest of the world, as China is the planet's No. 1 trading nation.

  • The big picture: Having shown that they are unafraid to let the yuan weaken past 7 to 1 with the dollar, Chinese authorities are raising concerns about many companies' indebtedness.

Watch this space: Dollar-denominated debt held by Chinese firms is now more than $1.5 trillion, 20% higher than it was in 2015, data from the Institute of International Finance shows.

  • The distribution of dollar debt has fallen to around 50% of total corporate debt from 70% in 2015, but banks and other financial institutions are now more exposed to currency risk because of their increased borrowing in dollars.

Go deeper: Chinese yuan weakens past key milestone as trade war heats back up

Go deeper

How small businesses got stiffed by the coronavirus pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The story of American businesses in the coronavirus pandemic is a tale of two markets — one made up of tech firms and online retailers as winners awash in capital, and another of brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop shops that is collapsing.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has created an environment where losing industries like traditional retail and hospitality as well as a sizable portion of firms owned by women, immigrants and people of color are wiped out and may be gone for good.

Apple's antitrust fight turns Epic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millions of angry gamers may soon join the chorus of voices calling for an antitrust crackdown on Apple, as the iPhone giant faces a new lawsuit and PR blitz from Epic Games, maker of mega-hit Fortnite.

Why it matters: Apple is one of several Big Tech firms accused of violating the spirit, if not the letter, of antitrust law. A high-profile lawsuit could become a roadmap for either building a case against tech titans under existing antitrust laws or writing new ones better suited to the digital economy.

Survey: Fears grow about Social Security’s future

Data: AARP survey of 1,441 U.S. adults conducted July 14–27, 2020 a ±3.4% margin of error at the 95% confidence level; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Younger Americans are increasingly concerned that Social Security won't be enough to wholly fall back on once they retire, according to a survey conducted by AARP — in honor of today's 85th anniversary of the program — given first to Axios.

Why it matters: Young people's concerns about financial insecurity once they're on a restricted income are rising — and that generation is worried the program, which currently pays out to 65 million beneficiaries, won't be enough to sustain them.