S&P: Corporate Bankruptcies Spike To Highest Since 2010, 3 Things To Know

S&P: Corporate Bankruptcies Spike To Highest Since 2010, 3 Things To Know

corporate bankruptcies

Image: Burning dollar by Paul Domenick, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pdomenick/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Vice Media, Party City and Bed Bath & Beyond are just three of the 230+ corporate bankruptcies filed so far in 2023 that are attributed to rising inflation, supply chain disruptions and interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve as lenders pull back on loans after the banking crisis.

Hit hardest by bankruptcy: consumer discretionary

The sectors hit hardest in May included consumer discretionary — household goods we want more than need, such as Christmas Tree Shops LLC.

In April, dress retailer David’s Bridal filed for bankruptcy days after the 70-year-old company said it planned to lay off more than 9,000 employees.

Other hard-hit sectors included bankruptcies in industrials (such as Brinks Home Security parent Monitronics International); financials (such as American Service Insurance Agency LLC) and healthcare (such as Envision Corp.)

Echoes of the Great Financial Crisis

The first five months of 2023 saw more filings than any comparable period since 2010, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. In May 2023, three companies each claimed more than $1 billion in liabilities, joining eight other such filings so far this year, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Part City.

This year’s 230+ corporate filings are way less than the 402 bankruptcies filed between Jan. 1 and May 30 of 2010, but 40 percent more than the 138 bankruptcies filed in the same period in 2022.

S&P’s bankruptcy figures include companies with public debt of at least $2 million in assets or liabilities.

“The era of low-interest rates and pandemic-related government support programs helped keep companies afloat that may have otherwise had few other options,” S&P analysts said when describing their data. “Now that interest rates are back to pre-Great Recession levels and pandemic support programs are largely over, we’re seeing a fresh uptick in a possible sign that companies are running out of time.”

In 2010, the U.S. economy was still in the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. The subprime mortgage crisis had set off the Great Recession, which officially started in December 2007. Banks could not provide lending to businesses and homeowners paid down debt rather than borrow and spend. By the second half of 2010, economic conditions had improved and the recession was declared officially over in September 2010.

In May, at least seven large companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection within 48 hours—the largest number on record during a two-day period since at least 2008, Bloomberg reported.

Layoffs shift from tech to other sectors

U.S. companies announced a record-breaking 80,089 job cuts in May 2023, a 287 percent increase over the same month in 2022, according to executive job outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The tech sector in May saw the highest number of layoffs, accounting for 22,887 lost jobs — more than a quarter of the total, LiveMint reported.

Tech-industry job cuts dominated at the beginning of 2023 with Facebook parent Meta, Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp. laying off tens of 1,000s of employees.

The downsizing has shifted beyond high-growth technology companies to other parts of the economy, Wall Street Journal reported. Retailers, manufacturers, media companies and the financial sector have all announced layoffs.