The paper uses firm-level data to assess the financial health of the Vietnamese non-financial corporate sector on the eve of pandemic. Our analysis finds that smaller domestic firms were particularly vulnerable even by regional comparison. A sensitivity analysis suggests that the COVID-19 shock will have a substantial impact on firms’ profitability, liquidity and even solvency, particularly in the hardest hit sectors that are dominated by SMEs and account for a sizeable employment share, but large firms are not immune to the crisis. Risks of default can propagate more broadly through upstream and downstream linkages to industries not directly impacted, with stresses potentially translating into an increase in corporate bankruptcies and bank fragility. Policy measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the crisis have helped alleviate liquidity pressures, but the nature of policy support may have to pivot to support the recovery.
This Selected Issues paper examines the vulnerability of firms in Malta and investigates the effect of their balance sheets on investment in innovation. The results indicate that, while the financial health of medium and large firms has improved in recent years, vulnerabilities remain in the construction sector and for small and medium enterprises. Firms with weaker balance sheets tend to invest less in innovation, even during good times. Policy implications call for (1) accelerating the restructuring of corporate balance sheets of highly leveraged but viable firms, (2) improving the insolvency framework to allow a fast exit of nonviable companies, and (3) expanding corporate funding options for small and medium enterprises, including via nonbank financing alternatives.
This Selected Issues paper highlights the Philippine growth performance led by the services sector. Average GDP growth is higher in the post-Asian crisis period in the Philippines, while the majority of the Philippines’s regional peers have experienced substantially lower growth in the post-Asian crisis period compared with the pre-crisis period. Trade and transport, storage, and communications services have been growth drivers while private and financial services have started to add new momentum. Various transfer programs are identified that would be much better targeted than across-the-board energy tax cuts.