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The Covid pandemic in the market: infected, immune and cured bonds

Summary:
Andrea Zaghini in this ECB working paper looks at how the pandemic impacted different bond markets in Europe: By focusing on the cost conditions at issuance, I find that not only the Covid-19 pandemic effects were different across bonds and firms at different stages, but also that the market composition was significantly affected, collapsing on investment-grade bonds, a segment in which the share of bonds eligible to the ECB corporate programmes strikingly increased from 15% to 40%. Contemporaneously, the high-yield segment shrunk to almost disappear at 4%. Another source of risk detected in the pricing mechanism is the weak resilience to pandemic: the premium requested is around 30 bp and started to be priced only after the early containment actions taken by the national authorities.

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Andrea Zaghini in this ECB working paper looks at how the pandemic impacted different bond markets in Europe:

By focusing on the cost conditions at issuance, I find that not only the Covid-19 pandemic effects were different across bonds and firms at different stages, but also that the market composition was significantly affected, collapsing on investment-grade bonds, a segment in which the share of bonds eligible to the ECB corporate programmes strikingly increased from 15% to 40%. Contemporaneously, the high-yield segment shrunk to almost disappear at 4%. Another source of risk detected in the pricing mechanism is the weak resilience to pandemic: the premium requested is around 30 bp and started to be priced only after the early containment actions taken by the national authorities. On the contrary, I do not find evidence supporting an increased risk for corporations headquartered in countries with a reduced fiscal space, nor the existence of a premium in favour of green bonds, which should be the backbone of a possible “green recovery”.

Amol Agrawal
I am currently pursuing my PhD in economics. I have work-ex of nearly 10 years with most of those years spent figuring economic research in Mumbai’s financial sector.

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