Over the past decade, low interest rates attracted borrowers to leveraged credit markets, which have since reached an unprecedented size and risk. The collision of a highly leveraged corporate sector with the severe economic shock from COVID-19 has created unique financial problems. This column analyses the main vulnerabilities in the loan market and evaluates the current US government response. Although the current stimulus programs are significant, they can be improved to better target at-risk businesses, mitigate moral hazard, and optimize the level of direct government funding.
[Submitted to the Federal Reserve, April 16, 2020.]