As the credit crunch continues to migrate to new categories of lending, one of the stress points many expect to come to the fore soon is a round of private-equity loans struck in the first half of the decade.

How to handle those loans could be one of the critical questions next year for bankers, as well as for the economy as a whole. Opinion appears divided on how that process is likely to go. The loans may not be the kind of credit bankers would extend today, but some say a round of refinancing is all but inevitable, given the alternative: a major round of commercial bankruptcies.

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