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