U.S. companies now face the highest levels of debt on record — more than $10.5 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or SIFMA.

The coronavirus pandemic is only part of the story.

The corporate debt market is where companies go to borrow cash. And for over a decade, super-low interest rates left over from the 2008 financial crisis have made borrowing easier and easier. Since then, U.S. companies have regularly offered up bonds for sale, taking advantage of the cheap access to cash.

Sometimes companies can get reckless with debt, and this can result in bonds facing downgrades and low ratings, putting those companies at junk bond status. Overborrowing can result in companies becoming "fallen angels" or "zombie" companies.

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