Data: Datastream, Worldscope, DB Global Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of so-called zombie companies is spiking and could soon represent more than one in five U.S. firms, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

What it means: "Zombies" are firms whose debt servicing costs are higher than their profits but are kept alive by relentless borrowing.

What they're saying: "This is a macroeconomic problem because zombie firms are less productive, and their existence lowers investment in and employment at more productive firms," Deutsche Bank Securities chief economist Torsten Sløk said in a note to clients Thursday.

  • "In short, one side effect of central banks keeping rates low for a long time is that it keeps more unproductive firms alive, which ultimately lowers the long-run growth rate of the economy."

What's next: "This trend ... is likely to continue going forward given the Fed’s commitment to keeping rates low and the ongoing support from the Fed to credit markets."

Go deeper: Corporate debt issuance has already topped $1 trillion in 2020

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Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

An uncertain Fed for an uncertain time

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Stringer/Getty Images

The Fed policy meeting Wednesday that was designed to further clarify its new stance on "average inflation targeting" — a topic addressed by multiple policymakers on its rate-setting committee in the month since it was announced — left the market with more questions than answers.

What's happening: The Fed announced that not only was it keeping U.S. interest rates at essentially zero for now but it plans to keep them there until at least 2023, extending its forecast an additional year.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
23 mins ago - Health

The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As the coronavirus pandemic drags into its seventh month, it remains an open debate whether the U.S. should aim for the elimination of COVID-19 — and whether we even can at this point.

Why it matters: This is the question underlying all of the political and medical battles over COVID-19. As both the direct effects of the pandemic and the indirect burden of the response continue to add up, we risk ending up with the worst of both worlds if we fail to commit to a course.

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.