You're Leveraged? How Gauche!

If debt was the height of fashion during the Roaring Eighties, it has become, just one month into the 1990s, painfully passe. The securities issued by companies that loaded up on leverage to do deals during the '80s are now taking their lumps on Wall Street as investors shift their money to less- indebted companies.

No securities have been hit harder than junk bonds. The $200 billion market fell 7% in value during the last quarter of 1989. It suffered another blow last week when the credit-rating agency Moody's suddenly downgraded some debt issued by RJR Nabisco, which went private in...

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