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Mr. Federico J Diez, Mr. Romain A Duval, Jiayue Fan, José Garrido, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Chiara Maggi, and Mr. Nicola Pierri
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased insolvency risks, especially among small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are vastly overrepresented in hard-hit sectors. Without government intervention, even firms that are viable a priori could end up being liquidated—particularly in sectors characterized by labor-intensive technologies, threatening both macroeconomic and social stability. This staff discussion note assesses the impact of the pandemic on SME insolvency risks and policy options to address them. It quantifies the impact of weaker aggregate demand, changes in sectoral consumption patterns, and lockdowns on firm balance sheets and estimates the impact of a range of policy options, for a large sample of SMEs in (mostly) advanced economies.
Mr. Philip Barrett, Mariia Bondar, Sophia Chen, Miss Mali Chivakul, and Ms. Deniz O Igan
Using a new daily index of social unrest, we provide systematic evidence on the negative impact of social unrest on stock market performance. An average social unrest episode in an typical country causes a 1.4 percentage point drop in cumulative abnormal returns over a two-week event window. This drop is more pronounced for events that last longer and for events that happen in emerging markets. Stronger institutions, particularly better governance and more democratic systems, mitigate the adverse impact of social unrest on stock market returns.
Mr. Fabian Valencia, Richard Varghese, Weijia Yao, and Juan Yepez
The policy response to the COVID-19 shock included regulatory easing across many jurisdictions to facilitate the flow of credit to the economy and mitigate a further ampli-fication of the shock through tighter financial conditions. Using an intraday event study,this paper examines how stock prices—a key driver in financial conditions—reacted to regulatory easing announcements in a sample of 18 advanced economies and 8 emerging markets. The paper finds that overall, regulatory easing announcements contributed to looser financial conditions, but effects varied across sectors and tools. Financial regulatory easing led to lower valuations for financial sector stocks, and higher valuations for non-financial sector stocks, particularly for industries that are more dependent on bank financing. Furthermore, valuations declined and financial conditions tightened following announcements related to easier bank capital regulation while equity valuation rose and financial conditions loosened after those about liquidity regulation. Effects from non-regulatory financial measures appear to be generally more muted.
Carlos Caceres, Diego A. Cerdeiro, Dan Pan, and Suchanan Tambunlertchai
This paper analyzes a group of 755 firms, with aggregate indebtedness of US$6.2 trillion, to assess the solvency risks and liquidity needs facing the U.S. corporate sector based on projections of net income, availability and cost of funding, and debt servicing flows under different stress test scenarios. The paper finds that leveraged corporates account for most of the potential losses arising from the macroeconomic stresses associated with the COVID-19 crisis, with a concentration of these losses in the oil and gas, auto, and capital and durable goods manufacturing sectors. However, potential losses from corporate debt write-downs appear to be a fraction of banks’ capital buffers and, given the size of the leveraged segment and the relatively long duration of that sector’s debt, the near-term liquidity needs of these corporates appear modest. Corporate stresses could, however, amplify the current economic downturn—as firms cut investment spending and reduce employment—potentially giving rise to significant indirect losses for the financial system.