Corporate debt is rising, but it’s safer than it looks

(CNN)As US corporate debt continues to rise rapidly, numerous investors, analysts and policymakers fear that it will either help trigger or deepen the next recession. We think those fears are overblown. First, corporate leverage is lower than many analysts believe. Despite the record level relative to GDP, the debt of non-financial corporations — which includes both public and private firms, but excludes financial institutions like banks — is within the range of the past 20 years as a share of cash flow and below the peak hit in 2001 (when the dot-com crash occurred). And corporate debt has actually trended lower relative to corporate assets since the mid-90s.The lower debt-to-cash flow and debt-to-assets measures are more meaningful than debt-to-GDP, as …