Last year set many new records in terms of global corporate default and transition performance. There were 264 defaults globally, the highest annual total since our database began in 1981 (see Table 1). The rated debt amount affected by these defaults reached $627.7 billion, also a series high. Distressed exchanges featured prominently as a trigger, accounting for 39% of defaults globally and 55% of total debt affected by defaults. Credit degradation among nondefaulting issuers was widespread and pronounced, especially in the first half of 2009, with the percentage of issuers downgraded during the course of the year reaching 18.34%, the highest rate in 29 years (see Table 6). There were 3.85 downgrades for every upgrade, the worst ratio on record.