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.
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.
An interesting disconnect has taken shape between local currency- and hard currency-denominated bonds in emerging markets with respect to their portfolio flows and prices since the start of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging market assets have recovered sharply from the COVID-19 sell-off in 2020, but the post-pandemic recovery in 2021 has been highly uneven. This note seeks to answer why. Yields of local currency-denominated bonds have risen faster and are approaching their pandemic highs, while hard currency bond yields are still near their post-pandemic lows. Portfolio flows to local currency debt have similarly lagged flows to hard currency bonds. This disconnect is closely linked to the external environment and fiscal and inflationary pressures. Its evolution remains a key consideration for policymakers and investors, since local markets are the main source of funding for emerging markets. This note draws from the methodology developed in earlier Global Financial Stability Reports on fundamentals-based asset valuation models for funding costs and forecasting models for capital flows (using the at-risk framework). The results are consistent across models, indicating that local currency assets are significantly more sensitive to domestic fundamentals while hard currency assets are dependent on the external risk sentiment to a greater extent. This suggests that the post-pandemic, stressed domestic fundamentals have weighed on local currency bonds, partially offsetting the boost from supportive global risk sentiment. The analysis also highlights the risks emerging markets face from an asynchronous recovery and weak domestic fundamentals.
Unconstrained multi-sector bond funds (MSBFs) can be a source of spillovers to emerging markets and potentially exert a sizable impact on cross-border flows. MSBFs have grown their investment in emerging markets in recent years and are highly concentrated—both in their positions and their decision-making. They typically also exhibit opportunistic behavior much more so than other investment funds. Theoretically, their size, multisector mandate, and unconstrained nature allows MSBFs to be a source of financial stability in periods of wide-spread market turmoil while others sell at fire-sale prices. However, this note, building on the analysis of Cortes and Sanfilippo (2020) and incorporating data around the COVID-19 crisis, finds that MSBFs could have contributed to increase market stress in selected emerging markets. When faced with large investor redemptions during the crisis, our sample of MSBFs chose to rebalance their portfolios in a concentrated manner, raising a large proportion of cash in a few specific local currency bond markets. This may have contributed to exacerbating the relative underperformance of these local currency bond markets to broader emerging market indices.
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.
The nominal bond yields for advanced economies rose sharply during the first quarter of the year. This note analyzes the drivers of this increase across the jurisdictions and tenors of the yield curve. A key investor focus, in particular, has been the rise in the nominal bond yields in the United States, which has had notable global financial stability spillovers. The analysis indicates that the rise in inflation expectations is the primary driver of the rise in US nominal bond yields over the near term, whereas, the rise in real yields has been the major contributor to the rise in longer-term yields. The change in term premiums has also played a key role in driving both the longer-term inflation breakeven and real yields. Considering other major advanced economies, while inflation expectations have risen across the board in the near term, change in real yields appear more pertinent a driver for shifts in longer-term yields.
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.
This note analyzes the stress experienced (and caused) by open-end mutual funds during the March COVID-19 stress episode, with a focus on global fixed-income funds. In light of increased valuation uncertainty, funds experienced a short period of intense withdrawals while the market liquidity of their holdings deteriorated substantially. To cover redemptions, afflicted funds predominantly shed liquid assets first—for example, cash, cash equivalents, and US Treasury securities. But forced asset sales amplified price pressures in markets and contributed to liquidity falling across fixed-income markets. This drop in market liquidity, as well as the general stress in financial markets, may have led to fund investors becoming even more sensitive to challenging portfolio performance and encouraged further withdrawals. Only after central banks intervened, directly and indirectly supporting asset managers, did liquidity and redemption stress subside. Overall, the March episode validated the financial-stability concerns about liquidity vulnerabilities in the fund industry and calls for further action to address them.
Mr. Adolfo Barajas, Andrea Deghi, Mr. Salih Fendoglu, and Yizhi Xu
This note analyzes recent trends in offshore US dollar funding markets and explores the drivers of dollar funding costs during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Preliminary evidence suggests that only part of the sharp increase in observed dollar funding costs can be attributed to the standard supply- and demand-side factors analyzed in the October 2019 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR), including the dollar funding fragility of non-US global banks. Changes in market structure since the global financial crisis, as well as heightened uncertainty and tensions in the commercial paper market, may provide further explanations for the movements in dollar funding costs in late March 2020. The US Federal Reserve’s swap line arrangements have helped lessen strains in dollar funding markets, but funding pressure remains significant for some emerging market economies, notably those with-out access to the swap lines. Furthermore, tighter dollar funding conditions appear to have accompanied increases in financial stress in the home economies of affected non-US global banks and to have generated adverse spill-over effects in the form of cutbacks in cross-border lending.