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Unregulated U.S. corporations dramatically increased their debt usage over the past century. Aggregate leverage -low and stable before 1945 -more than tripled between 1945 and 1970 from 11% to 35%, eventually reaching 47% by the early 1990s. The median firm in 1946 had no debt, but by 1970 had a leverage ratio of 31%. This increase occurred in all unregulated industries and affected firms of all sizes. Changing firm characteristics are unable to account for this increase. Rather, changes indoi:10.2139/ssrn.2223302 fatcat:mys3m57h2be7dielgccxqteiy4