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Wait, What Happened to All Those Corporate Bankruptcies?

The number of filings fell by half last year thanks to low rates and nontraditional lenders.
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No one would call 2021 an uneventful year. The U.S. Capitol was stormed in a would-be insurrection. Inflation surged to levels not seen in decades. And almost 300 million people worldwide were infected by Covid-19 as the emergence of variants wrecked any return to normalcy. But for bankruptcy, a sector usually goosed by global disruption, it was unusually quiet.

Large bankruptcies—those involving companies with at least $50 million in liabilities—dipped to 121 last year from 245 in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s below the 10-year annual average of 130. But that could change this year as stimulus money wanes and companies and their creditors try to figure out what to expect.