Trouble in paradise

Since the brutal credit bear market of 2001 and 2002, companies have worked diligently to patch up neglected balance sheets through cost-cutting and debt reduction measures, focusing on liquidity and bondholder value. As a result, credit quality has steadily improved, default rates are at their lows and corporate cash reserves have ballooned. But one of the great paradoxes of today's credit markets is that the current health of corporate America's balance sheets does not augur well for bondh