The credit crunch, bankruptcies, and leftover debt from the leveraged-to-the-hilt 1980s will lift the corporate bond default rate to a 20-year high this year, Moody's Investors Service predicts.

"The leveraging of the '80s is obviously significant," said Jerome Fons, a Moody's economist. "Thirty-four of the companies that defaulted had done [leveraged buyouts] in the last couple of years."

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