So much for a credit crunch…at least in the corporate bond market. The volume of global investment-grade debt issuance hit a record $824.4 billion in the first quarter of 2009, according to Marketwatch, which cited data from Dealogic.

That volume, more than double the amount issued during the first quarter in 2008, is especially astounding given that credit spreads are still quite wide. A total of $1.53 trillion in 3,370 deals was raised in the debt capital markets world-wide in the first quarter of this year.

To be sure, the U.S. government’s program to guarantee the debt of financial issuers helped boost activity. Marketwatch noted that government-backed issuance accounted for one-third of the volume of global investment-grade debt issued. Government-guaranteed debt topped $367.6 billion in the first quarter, compared to $219.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008. The largest government-guaranteed deal since the program started in October 2008 was Citigroup Inc.’s $12 billion offering.

Still, non-financial issuers also managed to trot out huge deals. Roche issued $39.5 billion in debt while Pfizer Inc. sold a $13.5 billion issue. 

JPMorgan was the top debt bookrunner, both domestically and globally, with a 9.8 percent and 16.7 percent share, respectively, according to Dealogic data. In the United States, total debt market volume fell 6 percent, to $563.8 billion, mostly because of a 72 percent decline in securitized debt.

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U.S. corporate investment-grade bond volume came in at a record $298.4 billion, up 80 percent, according to the data provider.


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