Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Perhaps the biggest risk for financial markets is the potential for wide-ranging debt defaults, particularly as companies have significantly increased their debt load and more are rated at the bottom of the investment grade ratings scale.

Why it matters: The world's companies are in a much worse position amid the coronavirus pandemic than they were ahead of the global financial crisis.

The state of play: Economists at the Institute of International Finance write, "Corporate debt is already very high relative to earnings — and earnings prospects are deteriorating: At nearly $75 trillion, the fast-growing mountain of global corporate debt (ex-financials) is around 93% of global GDP."

  • That's significantly higher than the level of corporate debt in the run-up to the 2008 global financial crisis (75% of GDP).
  • Worse, IIF notes, "Some of the highest debt burdens are in sectors with weak and volatile earnings profiles."

Go deeper: The world's fast-growing mountain of debt

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Shale's uncertain future amid coronavirus pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The shale sector is entering a "great compression" that could bring a "deep consolidation" as companies collectively face hundreds of billions of dollars worth of write-downs on their assets, a new Deloitte analysis finds.

Why it matters: The report shows how depressed oil prices stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic are slated to take a big toll on the sector, which was already struggling with debt and weak cash flow even before the crisis.

Americans increase deposits as banks cut back on lending

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. banks are seeing deposits skyrocket and are pulling back on loans in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, newly released data from the Federal Reserve show.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of trouble for the banking sector and the economy — a signal that consumers and businesses aren't starting new projects or focusing on growth, and are instead socking away cash.

How the Robinhood effect is moving the stock market

Reproduced from BCA Research using Bloomberg data; Table: Axios Visuals

A report from BCA Research published Monday finds Robinhood users are moving into speculative bets at an incredible rate, radically increasing holdings in three groups of stocks — airlines, cruise ships and mortgage REITs.

What's happening: "Retail investors have provided institutions with an opportunity to exit stocks in the three stressed groups," Doug Peta, BCA's chief U.S. investment strategist, writes in the note.