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Mr. Evan Papageorgiou and Rohit Goel
Fabio Cortes and Luca Sanfilippo
Tara Iyer
Mr. Salih Fendoglu

This note analyzes the implications of changes in commercial real estate (CRE) prices for the stability of the US banking sector. Using detailed bank-level and CRE price data for US metropolitan statistical areas, the analysis shows that, following a decline in CRE prices, banks with greater exposures to CRE loans perform worse than their counterparts, experiencing higher non-performing CRE loans, lower revenues, and lower capital. These effects are particularly pronounced if the drop in CRE prices turns out to be persistent because of possible structural shifts in CRE demand—for example, because of an increased trend toward e-commerce and teleworking—even after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is over. The impact of a decline in CRE prices is especially true for small and community banks, which tend to have the highest CRE loan exposures. While the US banking sector has remained resilient during the pandemic crisis due to strong capital buffers and massive policy support, these findings suggest that continued vigilance is warranted with regard to potential downside risks to CRE prices amidst ongoing structural shifts in the sector.

Andrea Deghi, Mr. Fabio M Natalucci, and Mahvash S Qureshi

After dropping sharply in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial real estate prices are on the mend. However, the initial price decline, as well as the pace of recovery, vary widely across regions and different segments of the commercial real estate market. This note analyzes the factors that explain this divergence using city-level data from major advanced and emerging market economies. The findings show that pandemic-specific factors such as the stringency of containment measures and the spread of the virus are strongly associated with a decline in prices, while fiscal support and easy financial conditions maintained by central banks have helped to cushion the shock. A higher vaccination rate has aided the recovery of the sector, especially in the retail segment. Structural changes in private behavior such as the trend toward teleworking and e-commerce have also had an impact on commercial property prices in some segments. The outlook of the sector across regions thus remains closely tied to the trajectory of the pandemic and broader macroeconomic recovery, financial market conditions, and the pace of structural shifts in the demand for specific property types. In an environment of tightening financial conditions and a slowdown in economic activity, continued vigilance is warranted on the part of financial supervisors to minimize financial stability risks stemming from potential adverse shocks to the sector.

Tara Iyer

Crypto assets have emerged as an increasingly popular asset class among retail and institutional investors. Although initially considered a fringe asset class, their increased adoption across countries—in emerging markets, in particular—amid bouts of extreme price volatility has raised concerns about their potential financial stability implications. This note examines the extent to which crypto assets have moved to the mainstream by estimating the potential for spillovers between crypto and equity markets in the United States and in emerging markets using daily data on price volatility and returns. The analysis suggests that crypto and equity markets have become increasingly interconnected across economies over time. Spillovers from price volatility of the oldest and most popular crypto asset, Bitcoin, to the S&P 500 and MSCI emerging markets indices have increased by about 12-16 percentage points since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, while those from its returns have increased by about 8-10 percentage points. Spillovers from the most traded stablecoin, Tether, to these indices have also increased by about 4-6 percentage points. In absolute terms, spillovers from Bitcoin to global equity markets are significant, explaining about 14-18 percent of the variation in equity price volatility and 8-10 percent of the variation in equity returns. These findings suggest that close monitoring of crypto asset markets and the adoption of appropriate regulatory policies are warranted to mitigate potential financial stability risks.

Tao Sun

This note analyzes the economic impact of digital lending to micro and small sized enterprises (MSEs) in China during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. A preliminary analysis of a large pool of MSEs served by a digital bank indicates that digital banks were able to remotely evaluate borrowers and sustain lending during the pandemic, thereby facilitating the business continuity, sales growth, and financial inclusiveness of MSEs. In the global context, a policy framework—leveraging the advantages of digital banks and empowering digital banks, while guarding against possible financial stability risks—would further support small businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.