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Boom in Dodgy Wall Street Deals Points to Market Trouble Ahead

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Turbulent Week For U.S. Stocks Breaks Win Streak
Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg

The fourth-quarter stock market rout that wiped out $12 trillion in shareholder value and sparked a bout of Christmas Eve panic may have quickly been forgotten by most Americans, but not by the salespeople and financial engineers of Wall Street.

No, the selloff, it would appear, wound up triggering fears that time was running out on the longest bull market in history. And so, when early 2019 delivered a miraculous rebound, they wasted no time in peddling all sorts of deals and arrangements that test the limits of risk tolerance: from health-food makers fast-tracked into public hands to stretched retailers wrung for billions by private equity owners in the debt market.