Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Both Moody's and S&P Global downgraded PG&E from investment grade to junk this week, meaning the California utility is likely in for some major upheaval.

Why it matters: PG&E's problems are unique, but the company's recent trouble highlights a growing risk in the credit market for companies that technically have investment grade debt, but are teetering on the brink of junk status. A weakening economic and credit cycle could spark a slew of downgrades, with half of investment-grade debt in the lowest-rated rank.

The number of companies with debt just one level above junk has swelled 247% since the end of 2007, faster than the 190% increase for the overall credit market. But so far, only 7% of these companies has been downgraded, according to Fitch Ratings.

  • A downgrade would make it pricier for companies to tap into capital markets, which some rely on for growth and others just to keep things running. A downgrade to junk can also force fund managers who only hold investment grade debt to sell, and high-yield managers might not be interested until the price falls further.

The bottom line: Corporations have ratcheted up their debt load to the tune of $9 trillion since the financial crisis, thanks to easy money and a long period of low interest rates. S&P Global analysts noted recently that the booming credit cycle is "in its later stages."

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Exclusive: Conservative group launches $2M Supreme Court ad

Screengrab of ad, courtesy of Judicial Crisis Network.

The Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $2.2 million ad campaign to put pressure on vulnerable Senate Republicans in battleground states to support a quick confirmation when President Trump announces his Supreme Court nominee.

The big picture: "Follow Precedent," previewed by Axios, is one of the first national and cable television ads to run following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death Friday.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air

CDC Director Robert Redfield. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

The CDC has removed new guidance that acknowledged airborne transmission of the coronavirus, posting in a note on its website that the guidance was only a draft and had been published in error.

Why it matters: The initial update — which was little noticed until a CNN story was published Sunday — had come months after scientists pushed for the agency to acknowledge the disease was transmissible through the air. The CDC previously said that close person-to-person contact was the bigger concern, and the language has been changed back to erase the warning about airborne transmission.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in state in Capitol's National Statuary Hall

Photo: Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in state in the Capitol's National Statuary Hall on Friday.

The state of play: The Supreme Court also announced Monday that Ginsburg will lie in repose on the front steps of the building on Wednesday and Thursday, allowing the public to pay respects to the late justice outside.