Eco Notepad features educational articles that present the research, studies and economic expertise of the Banque de France. The blog is aimed at students, professionals, journalists and academics. Some articles will be devoted to analyses carried out by the Bank's branch network, on specific topics. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Banque de France, the Eurosystem, or the institutions employing these authors.
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The price dynamics of corporate and residential real estate are highly correlated in France, both historically and geographically. The health crisis is firstly an asymmetrical shock affecting primarily the demand for corporate real estate. Nevertheless, we show that a fall in prices in this sector could affect residential property prices, particularly in areas where supply is most constrained.
Chart 1: annual growth of office and residential real estate prices as a national average, and distribution by département.
Between the end of December 2019 and the end of March 2021, companies' gross debt increased by EUR 224 billion, while their cash position rose by EUR 215 billion. Based on a first analysis of the 205,392 balance sheets received by the Banque de France, it is possible to break down these overall reassuring figures in more detail: 6 to 7% of the total number of rated companies could face difficulties when the support measures are lifted.
Chart 1: Changes in companies’ gross financial debt and cash position Source: Banque de France - Companies Directorate. Key: “sensitive” quadrant, red disk: 11.4% of companies that have not taken out a State-guaranteed loan (SGL) whose gross debt has increased by 22% and cash position has decreased by 33%.
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, euro area residents have sharply adjusted their international portfolio investments. Significant sales of foreign assets in March 2020 were followed by large purchases of foreign securities. At the same time, non-residents have purchased euro area debt securities, especially short-term debt.
Chart 1: The euro area has purchased US securities on a massive scale since the second quarter of 2020 Source: European Central Bank.
Despite significant international financial support, low-income countries (LICs) are likely to be more affected by the crisis than advanced or emerging countries. Strengthening the IMF's financial safety net for LICs is in everyone's interest, in order to prevent these countries from becoming weak links in global risks, such as those related to health or climate change.
Chart 1: Average per capita GDP growth Source: IMF (WEO, REO, April 2021)
By Grâce Constant, Andréa Tran Van Hong and Marie Rouger
In the face of the Covid-19 crisis, New Caledonia’s economy, which is highly dependent on nickel, is showing some resilience thanks to the buoyant global nickel market, while French Polynesia’s economy is being harder hit by the lockdown measures due to the high weight of tourism. The impact of the crisis is nonetheless being limited by non-market services, which are a key source of resilience in both territories.
Chart 1: Economic characteristics of the French overseas collectivities in the Pacific Ocean Source: Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE – French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Research).
By Florian Bonnet, Hippolyte d’Albis and Aurélie Sotura
Over the past century, income disparities per adult between départements have been steadily decreasing. The low-income diagonal, which used to be very marked from the north-west to the south-east, has given way to a "low population density diagonal" which now runs from the north-east to the south-west.
Chart 1. Gini coefficient of income per adult between the 90 départments, 1922-2015 Sources: tax records and authors' calculations
In the Monthly Business Survey (MBS) carried out at the end of February/beginning of March 2021, business leaders were asked about the organisational costs associated with COVID and their ability to pass them on to their selling prices. These costs may be high for some sectors but their ability to pass them on to prices appears to be generally limited. Ultimately, the direct and indirect impact on the general level of consumer prices should therefore be small, between 0.1 and 0.3 percentage point, but these costs could affect the margins of some companies.
Chart 1: Direct impact on selling prices of the additional costs generated by the health measures Source: The Banque de France's monthly business survey
While the principle of a European Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) has been agreed on, discussions as to its calibration are still underway. This post presents three scenarios in which the calculation of the tax base and the scope of the mechanism vary. These choices have significant consequences: the gains in terms of CO2 reduction can vary by a factor of three, depending on the scenario chosen.
Chart 1: Short-term impact of the CBAM on EU imports and import-related emissions Source: authors' calculations, OECD, CEPII, Cezar & Polge (2020).
For several decades, advanced economies have seen their borrowing costs decrease, including amid the coronavirus pandemic. This is especially true at the long end of the yield curve. Even long-term bonds issued by some private corporations in the euro area trade at negative interest rates. This decrease in borrowing costs primarily reflects a decline in the natural real rate of interest due to population ageing and slower productivity growth, as well as the more recent compression of the long end of the yield curve resulting from central banks’ bond purchases.
Chart 1: 10-year sovereign yields and asset purchases Sources: Bloomberg, ECB
By Benjamin Bureau, Anne Duquerroy, Mathias Lé and Frédéric Vinas (Banque de France), Julien Giorgi and Suzanne Scott (INSEE)
Since the start of the public health crisis, the Banque de France and INSEE have compiled a monthly estimate of the loss of activity in each sector, notably via their monthly economic surveys and their monitoring of high-frequency data. The monthly surveys have proved to be a reliable and almost real-time indicator of the impact of the restrictions, and have on the whole been confirmed by the national quarterly accounts. In parallel, the Banque de France and INSEE have launched a joint project which differs from these surveys but complements them in terms of methodology: using real turnover data for individual firms (measured using VAT returns), they compare ex-post the “activity shock” with a counterfactual of what turnover would have been without the. This makes it possible to carry out an analysis at a more granular level, within individual sectors. This blog post presents the first results of this project, which are consistent with our monthly surveys. They will be supplemented with an ex-post analysis of firms’ cash and financial positions.
Chart 1 – Evolution of the aggregate shock to activity over 2020 Source: VAT data (DGFiP) and authors’ calculations.
By Oustry Antoine, Erkan Bünyamin, Svartzman Romain and Weber Pierre-François
The securities accepted as a guarantee under the Eurosystem collateral framework are not, in aggregate, “aligned” with the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. They can therefore be considered to be exposed to so-called “transition” risks related to climate change. Technically, it would be possible to ensure that the collateral pools pledged by each counterparty are more aligned, but this raises methodological questions.
Chart 1: Coverage rate and climate alignment of the pools of collateral pledged by Eurosystem counterparties, based on the methodology developed by Carbon4Finance Sources: Carbon4Finance, Eurosystem and authors’ calculations.
Central banks' balance sheets have grown significantly, as a result of the "non-standard" monetary policies conducted in response to the 2008 crisis and the Covid-19 crisis. Reflecting the net asset purchase programmes in place, they are still expanding. However, over the longer term, their size could stabilise and then gradually decline once inflation has consistently returned to close to its target. Adjusting the size of their balance sheets should nevertheless remain in central banks' toolbox.
Chart1: Balance sheets of the Eurosystem, the FED and the BoJ (in amounts and as a % of GDP) Source: ECB, FED, BoJ, Eurostat Note: Top panel: amount in billions of euros (G€), dollars (G$), and yen (G¥). Bottom panel: as a % of GDP.