The COVID-19 Pandemic and ASEAN+3 Corporate Debt-at-Risk

The COVID-19 pandemic put tremendous pressure on company balance sheets in the ASEAN+3 region and elsewhere. Policy support measures kept interest rates accommodative and facilitated borrowing by firms to stay afloat, and avoid large-scale employee layoffs and defaulting on their debt obligations. From a financial stability perspective, the rise in credit risks exposed banks to a deterioration in the asset quality of their loan portfolios. This paper analyzes the impact of the pandemic on the region’s listed companies, across economies and industries, and assesses the effectiveness of policy support measures for this sector. Specifically, the paper estimates the amount of corporate debt-at-risk to determine the potential implications for the economy if under-pressure firms had been or are unable to adequately service their debt or obtain credit. The findings underscore the importance of supportive economic policies and the need to sustain the confidence of lenders to continue rolling over loans to the corporate sector.

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