With the junk bond market thriving like never before, everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the action. Bennett Goodman already has his.

Mr. Goodman, 40, heads the high-yield bond department of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette-the market's clear leader for the past 3 years. This year, the firm lead-managed more than $15 billion of the bonds, or 13% of the market.

Mr. Goodman and his team have helped bring about nothing less than a junk bond renaissance. Though the instruments were left for dead at the end of the 1980s, they are once again a staple of corporate mergers and restructurings.

"The legitimacy of the asset class is recognized not just in the U.S. but around the world," declared Mr. Goodman, a veteran of fallen junk-bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Wall Street firms and commercial banks alike are now scrambling to issue the bonds. And the competition is intensifying as the market converges with the leveraged loan business. One offshoot: bank loans with bond-like characteristics.

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