Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

From Vice Media to Bed Bath & Beyond, bankruptcies are picking up again. Last week, corporate America had its worst 48-hour stretch of bankruptcies since at least 2008, according to Bloomberg. That's never a good comparison.

So far, more than 230 companies have filed for bankruptcy in 2023, according to the latest data from S&P Global, which tallied the figures through April.

James Gellert, CEO of Rapid Ratings International, a company that evaluates the financial health of public and private companies, said many of these troubled companies have similar traits.

"The big themes are that they have degraded in operational quality and have debt that has been unsustainable," he said.

"That is the formula for bankruptcy in this market."

Retail companies are some of the hardest hit in the current economic environment because they are susceptible to consumer buying changes, Gellert said. Party City, Tuesday Morning and David's Bridal are just some of the retailers to have filed for bankruptcy this year.

Companies with weaker balance sheets may continue to feel the pain all the way into next year. The corporate default rate for companies with lower credit quality will peak in early 2024, said Moody's Investors Service, before falling as economic growth re-accelerates.

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