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Expand chart
Data: LCD, an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

U.S. companies are still binging on debt, as interest rates remain near record lows.

Driving the news: With the third quarter now in the books, we can see that the dollar amount of year-to-date leveraged loans and high yield bond sales are unmatched in recent history. This debt is the type issued by companies with lower credit ratings.

  • Meanwhile, the amount of higher-rated investment-grade bonds issued through the third quarter of the year is eclipsed only by last year's record.

Why it matters: The debt is fuel for the record number of M&A transactions this year. It’s also enabled dividends to shareholders of both public and private companies.

  • Debt deals for below-investment-grade companies in which the money was used for dividend payments have already hit a full-year record, the WSJ recently reported.

Go deeper

Oct 22, 2021 - Podcasts

Comeback companies on the rise

The pandemic rocked thousands of companies across the country, especially those in the service sector. Hertz filed for bankruptcy and Airbnb laid off a quarter of its employees.

So how were these companies able to thrive after knocking on death’s door?

Axios Re:Cap talks with Axios’ chief financial correspondent and author of the weekly Axios Capital newsletter Felix Salmon on the “Lazarus” companies of the pandemic era.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats target billionaires

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.