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The riskiest corporate debtors in the U.S. aren’t growing fast enough to pay down their borrowings, increasing the risk for bond investors at a time when valuations are already at about record highs.

That’s the conclusion of Deutsche Bank AG, which estimates that the biggest jump in earnings in almost three years may be coming too late for speculative-grade borrowers as the amount of debt on balance sheets climbs back to levels seen in early 2008 before the financial crisis. To make matters worse, their ability to make interest payments is about where it was in 2007, even as the Federal Reserve has held its benchmark rate close to zero.

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