VoxEU & CEPR Coverage of the Covid-19 Global Pandemic

Bruno Albuquerque, 28 September 2021

Corporate debt has increased substantially in many parts of the world during the pandemic, raising concerns about the effects on investment in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shock. This column uses data for a large panel of US firms to investigate the implications of firm-specific debt booms for investment. It finds that debt booms lead financially constrained firms to decrease capital expenditures and intangibles, underscoring the importance of dealing with debt overhang for managing the US recovery.

Takahiro Hattori, Norihiro Komura, Takashi Unayama, 28 September 2021

During the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Japan, the Japanese government decided to provide a Special Cash Payment of 100,000 yen per person to all residents as a part of its “Emergency Economic Measures to Cope with COVID-19”. This column uses publicly available survey data to estimate the marginal propensity to consume from the cash transfer in order to assess the impact of the policy. It finds that the payments increased non-negligible consumption mainly due to their size, but the marginal propensity to consume, at around 10 %, is no different from non-pandemic periods. 

Kangni Kpodar, Montfort Mlachila, Saad Quayyum, Vigninou Gammadigbe, 27 September 2021

Despite early predictions of a large collapse, remittance flows to developing countries have been surprisingly resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. This column describes how migrants appear to have responded positively to rising COVID-19 infection rates in their home countries despite economic challenges in host countries. Fiscal stimulus in host countries played a role in keeping remittances buoyant. Travel restrictions, on the other hand, seem to have positively affected official remittance flows, suggesting such restrictions led migrants to use formal channels to send remittances instead of informal channels. 

Hans Degryse, Roman Goncharenko, Carola Theunisz, Tamas Vadasz, 25 September 2021

The transition to a carbon-neutral economy requires firms and banks to have environmental consciousness, raising the question of how bank financing can contribute to global climate objectives. This column examines whether and how the environmental consciousness (or ‘greenness’) of firms and banks is reflected in the pricing of bank credit. The evidence suggests that firms are indeed rewarded for being green: green firms can get cheaper loans – although only when borrowing from green banks and only since the 2015 ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Francesca Caselli, Matilde Faralli, Paolo Manasse, Ugo Panizza, 24 September 2021

Do countries benefit from servicing their debts during times of sovereign defaults? Colombia is typically regarded as the only large Latin American country that did not default in the 1980s, but this column argues that the case of Colombia is more complex than commonly assumed. Although it had to re-profile its debts, high-level political support from the US allowed Colombia to do so outside of the standard framework of an IMF programme. In the short to medium run, Colombia benefited from avoiding an explicit default, but this strategy did not lead to long-term reputational gains.

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