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.
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.
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.