About one-fifth of the debt issued by U.S. corporations is rated at junk status or below. While that number is below the 2017 figure, it is still significantly higher than the years leading into the Great Recession.
In 2017, 26% of outstanding U.S. corporate debt was below the investment grade line. That year coincided with $1.7 trillion in total issues, higher than the $1.4 trillion issued in 2016 and more than three times that which was issued five years earlier.
Default rates are also up accordingly, with $19.5 billion in debt being subject to default so far in 2018, higher than 2017's $14 billion in defaults. For comparative purposes, $132 billion in debt was defaulted on in 2008 and $32 billion in 2009.