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Citi Asks "Who Is Levering Up?", Answers "Everyone" And Finds Median Leverage Has Never Been Higher

Hopefully this will end the debate about US corporate "deleveraging", which is really leveraging whose proceeds are used to fund pervasive stock buybacks and raise the S&P 500 in what is nothing short of a massive, creeping MBO of the entire market, once and for all.

From Citi's Stephen Antczak

Who is Levering Up?

"Pretty much everybody. We calculate leverage for the IG universe today and three years ago (leverage ratio on the Y axis, names on the X axis and ordered from most to least levered). In gross and net terms there has basically been a parallel shift upward."

“Sneaky” Leverage on the Rise as Well

"One way to lever up is buyback shares, an activity that has been on the rise. Another way is grow assets faster than equity, and activity that has also ticked up recently."

What does that mean about overall leverage?

"We calculated leverage for two baskets of names — the overall IG universe updated quarterly since ’06, and for a basket comprised of credits that held an IG rating at any time since ‘06 (to capture falling angels). Either way, it doesn’t look good."

And by "it doesn't look good", Citi of course, means "doesn't look bad"