Rising Sea Levels Pose Increasing Credit Risks For Many U.S. Coastal States And Investors In Their Bonds
As if COVID-19 had not affected states’ and municipalities’ finances adversely enough, numerous states and municipalities and investors in their bonds, also need to worry about the economic impact of rising sea levels. According to a Moody’s Investors Services report released yesterday afternoon, “More frequent and severe flooding from high tides and storm surges from major weather events threaten coastal economies, property values and critical infrastructure.”
The severity and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 globally should compel any credit professional to change existing corporate credit risk management frameworks. That is lenders, have to develop corporate credit frameworks that include an analysis of other risks that impact companies’ profitability and liquidity, especially operational risk.
In the daily flurry of negative news, investors should be careful not to lose sight of the fact that while COVID-19 has caused thousands of companies to struggle, default on their debt, or to declare bankruptcy around the globe, it has also created great business opportunities. With thousands of schools, universities, and job training center closed around the world, many since February, the need for online education for educators, parents, students and life-long learners has never been more urgent.
Moody’s data shows that not only are rated company defaults rising, but also that over half of them are private equity-owned leveraged buy outs (LBOs). During the first half of this year, rated companies owned by such private equity firms as Blackstone, Goldman Sachs Group, KKR, and Thomas Lee have defaulted; Ares Management owns the highest number of defaulted private-equity owned rated companies.
Data in Fitch Ratings’ monthly publication ‘U.S. High Yield Default Insight’ shows that the second quarter 2020 default volume of $41.1 billion, was 4% more than the previous record of $39.5 billion set during the same period in 2009. The telecoms and energy sector accounted for 70% of the second quarter 2020 default volume.
Improving Cross-Border Payments Is Critical To Support Global Economic Growth, Trade And Financial Inclusion
Resolving longstanding frictions and challenges in cross-border payments has been a major objective of the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI). According to CPMI, the international standard setter which promotes the safety and efficiency of payment, clearing, settlement and related arrangements, “Faster, cheaper, more transparent and more inclusive cross-border payment services would deliver widespread benefits for citizens and economies worldwide, supporting economic growth, international trade, global development and financial inclusion.”
Job losses in New York are having a very adverse effect on New Yorkers’ income and their well-being. The COVID-19 recession has hurt every area in New York state and has erased more than 1.8 million jobs throughout the entire state. According to U.S. Census Bureau survey information released on Thursday by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, 53% of New York adults age 18 and over live in households that have lost employment income since mid-March; this is higher than the national figure of 48%.
A more stable financial system benefits all of society, and even with additional bank regulations, does not hurt the real economy. In discussing ‘Evaluation of the effects of too-big-to-fail reforms,’ a report published today by the Financial Stability Board, Deutsche Bundesbank Vice-President, Claudia M. Buch, stated that the “TBTF [Too Big To Fail] reforms bring net benefits to society. But the private and the official sector look at costs and benefits from a different perspective. For example: lower too-big-to-fail subsidies imply higher funding costs for banks – but lower costs for the taxpayer.”
Increasing evidence from credit markets is showing, that as I wrote in March, this recession will be worse than the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Credit markets are a very good place to see where the economy is headed. Unfortunately, the default rate, of corporate companies rated by credit rating agencies, continues to rise.
Taxpayers in America’s ten most populous cities are facing significant taxpayer burdens. Unfortunately, as the COVID-19 economic crisis intensifies, without significant fiscal reforms at these cities and without a federal bailout, taxpayers’ burden will rise precisely at a time that millions are losing their jobs and are having incomes and savings significantly reduced.
In less than two months, we have gone from an unemployment rate of 3.5%, a 50-year low to probably over 20%, the worst level since the Great Depression. Today’s Unemployment Insurance filings were 3.2 million, higher than economists’ consensus expectations. The number of jobs created since the Great Recession that ended in 2009 have been wiped out.
As the COVID-19 economic crisis continues to worsen, current and recently laid-off employees in the hotel sector globally will continue to struggle, and in many cases, suffer severely. According to Martin Leary, Director of Research at labor union, UNITE HERE, “Hotels were one of the first businesses to lay off people in the U.S. in mid-March. Big hotel chains had an understanding of what was going on with COVID-19, because they have a presence in China. They quickly drew down lines of credit and started laying off people.”
In an almost unnoticed letter to Senator Mike Crapo, the Chairman Of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, The Federal Reserve Board’s Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles, is asking that “Congress should consider modifying section 171 of the Dodd-Frank Act (“the Collins Amendment”) to allow regulators to provide flexibility under Tier 1 leverage requirements as banks respond to increased credit demands.” The purpose of Tier I leverage requirements is for banks to allocate high quality capital, that is, common equity and retained earnings, to help them sustain unexpected losses, especially during a crisis.
22% of the American labor force is now unemployed; that is about almost 36 million people out of work. This figure includes the 3.5% who were already unemployed before the COVID-19 pandemic and the over 30 million new jobless who joined just in the last six weeks. This unbelievably high level of unemployment has not been seen since 1934.
The quality of syndicated leveraged loan covenants deteriorated to a record low the last quarter of 2019. Leveraged loans are typically defined as loans to companies, which carry debt levels of five times or more than their stated Earnings Before Interest Tax and Depreciation (EBITDA). Leveraged loans with fewer covenants, known as covenant-lite, have grown enormously since 2013, since interest rates have been low and lenders were chasing yield.
In the week ended April 18, 204,716 New Yorkers filed for Unemployment Insurance (UI). This number of jobless claims is 48% less than filed the previous week, 395,494. However, just in the last five weeks, data from the New York Department of Labor shows that the total number of New Yorkers filing new jobless claims has reached 1.4 million. This very high level of jobless claims is about 2/3 of the total jobless claims filed during the entire time of the Great Recession in June 2007-November 2009.