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Worries Mounting Over Corporate Debt

By Emily Thornton

The pain from Corporate America’s debt binge over the last several years appears to be far from over, judging from a report put out today by Diane Vazza, a managing director of Standard & Poor’s. (Like BusinessWeek, Standard & Poor’s is a division of McGraw-Hill Companies.)

About 25% of American companies’ debt ratings are now at risk of being downgraded, according to Vazza’s report. That’s the highest ratio since 26% of companies had a negative outlook or were put on Credit Watch with negative implications in December 2003. “The proportion of issuers listed with a negative bias is currently at more elevated levels than ever recorded in this credit cycle,” Vazza writes. Companies are most vulnerable in the forest products and building materials, mortgage, automotive, and media industries.

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