Chart 3: The Debt Burden at Large Companies Appears to Have Risen Higher and Faster than at Small Companies Since the Late 1980s
Data Source: Federal Reserve Board Flow of Funds (Haver Analytics)
Left Scale: Ratio of Debt to Net Worth, in Percent (scale = 0 to 60 percent)
Note: Net worth is stated at its estimated market value.
The time series shows quarterly data from 1980 to the third quarter of 2001 on the horizontal axis.
The dotted line represents nonfarm noncorporate business ("small companies"). This line rises from 28 percent in the first quarter of 1980 to a peak of 46 percent in the third quarter of 1989. The line then falls to a low of 38 percent in the first and second quarters of 1996. After this time, it begins to rise again, reaching 43 percent in the third quarter of 2001.
The solid line represents nonfarm nonfinancial corporate business ("large companies"). This line stands at 31 percent in the first quarter of 1980 and rises to a level of approximately 54 percent in 1992 and 1993. The line then declines to 47 percent in the third quarter of 1997 and begins to rise again, reaching 59 percent in the third quarter of 2001.