Creditors struggle to stop stressed firms borrowing more

Dropdowns, uptiers and double dips grow in number, and lenders can't prevent them

In 2016, US clothing retailer J Crew was running into trouble. A move upmarket had alienated core customers. The halo effect of celebrity fans such as Michelle Obama, who once sung the brand’s praises on a talk show, had dimmed. J Crew was also buckling under a pile of debt and, with maturities looming, it was only a matter of time before the company faced default.

To dig itself out of this hole, J Crew embarked on an exercise in financial acrobatics. It shifted its brand trademarks to a

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