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European Bank for Reconstruction and Development warns of rise in ‘zombie’ companies if pandemic measures continue – Reuters

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© Reuters. London, Britain, November 22, 2016, the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Written by Jorgelina do Rosario

LONDON (Reuters) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has urged governments in its region to rethink Covid-19 support measures for businesses, warning that subsidizing “zombie” companies could have a knock-on effect on healthy companies.

While corporate debt has reached a record high in all 40 economies in which the EBRD operates, defaults have fallen to a record low in many countries, the development bank found in its “Annual Transition Report 2022/2023” published on Tuesday. .

The bank, which covers countries from Kazakhstan to Hungary and Tunisia, argued that some companies avoided default because of access to cheap credit thanks to government measures after the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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However, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said that continued subsidies were no longer sustainable in a world of high interest rates.

“We still haven’t seen the repercussions of the pandemic and the war in terms of bankruptcies. In fact, bankruptcies have decreased in the new EU member states,” Beata Javorcik, the bank’s chief economist, told Reuters. “There is a risk of a zombie apocalypse if emergency measures from governments are extended for a longer period.”

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has warned that the presence of zombie companies in the economy leads to negative repercussions for healthy companies, which see a decline in investment, revenue and employment.

The report showed that subsidized credit to companies with negative cash flows was extended through temporary payment deferrals, negotiated reductions in outstanding amounts, emergency grants, and liquidity injections by central banks. Many countries have also suspended – at least temporarily – the obligation to file for insolvency.

Any withdrawal of government credit guarantees and subsidies must be gradual to avoid any shock, and “must be adjusted to ensure that only viable companies with temporary liquidity problems receive financial assistance”.

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The problem is more present in economies dominated by government-run corporations and banks, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development found: 13% of state-owned firms in the 12-country sample used in the study could be classified as zombie firms, compared with 9% of private sector. owned companies.

The EBRD report also showed mixed progress on reforms by countries in six key areas, from competitiveness and flexibility to the way they are managed.

The countries in Central Europe, the Baltics and mainly Southeastern Europe experienced increasing scores, while the economies of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean mostly suffered a decline.

The report added, “Governance outcomes have deteriorated in many economies in EBRD regions, driven primarily by worsening corruption and declining press freedom.”

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Economic

New York Federal Reserve Securities Link Reverse Repo to Bank Regulatory Change by Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is seen in front of the Federal Reserve Board and is expected to signal plans to raise interest rates in March as it focuses on fighting inflation in Washington, US, January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Written by Michael S Derby

(Reuters) – Continued massive cash flows at a key Fed facility are largely driven by a change in bank liquidity regulations from last year, a New York Federal Reserve report said on Friday.

The Fed offers what’s called a reverse repo, which allows eligible businesses to store cash at the central bank for a risk-free return. The rule that plays into the inflows is a regulation called the supplementary leverage ratio, which determines how much liquidity banks need on hand.

The SLR standard was relaxed during the most severe phase of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when concerns about market performance prevailed, and it was restored at the end of March 2021, to return to a more stringent level.

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Banking economists Jara Afonso, Marco Cipriani, and Gabriel La Spada write: “After the end of the SLR exemption period, banks had less flexibility to expand their balance sheets by increasing their holdings of reserves and Treasuries.” This had a knock-on effect on money market funds, the main users of reverse repo, which drove liquidity into the reverse repo facility.

After the regulations changed, the newspaper said, banks were less inclined to take deposits, and instead the money flowed into financial funds, which had to invest that money somewhere. Meanwhile, banks have cut back on short-term debt offerings, restricting where money can be invested. Moreover, the federal interest rate increases pushed cash into money market funds as financial markets experienced a shift in the cost of short-term borrowing, according to the authors.

The Federal Reserve’s esteemed buyback facility is an essential part of the toolkit it uses to manage its federal funds rate target setting, which it uses to influence the economy’s trajectory to achieve its inflation and employment targets. A reverse repo tool provides money market funds and other companies a place to deposit cash into the Federal Reserve overnight and earn a return. It is currently at 3.8% and is an investment with a better return than many private securities that come with greater risks.

The Fed’s reverse repo facility was largely unused in the spring of 2021, and then flows increased steadily. Inflows peaked at $2.426 trillion at the end of September before easing slightly to Friday’s inflow of $2.05 trillion.

Fed officials were optimistic about the huge levels of inflows. Some have argued that as the Fed raises interest rates and reduces the size of its balance sheet to combat high inflation, inflows into the reverse repo facility should decrease over time. But so far it hasn’t really happened.

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Meanwhile, issues related to the correct setup of the SLR are under consideration by the financial authorities, who are treading cautiously on the issue. “History shows the massive costs incurred by society when bank capital is inadequate, and therefore the urgency that the Fed properly adjusts capital regulation,” Michael Barr, the Fed’s official on bank supervision, said in comments Thursday.

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US Federal Reserve proposes plan for banks to manage climate-related financial risks By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An eagle graces the facade of the US Federal Reserve Building in Washington, July 31, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Written by Chris Prentice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve on Friday joined other major bank regulators in proposing a plan for how big banks can manage climate-related financial risks, drawing immediate opposition from one member and reservations from another.

The proposed principles detail the expectations for banks with more than $100 billion in assets to incorporate climate-related financial risks into their strategic planning. The proposal was approved for public comment in a 6-1 vote of the Fed’s Board of Governors.

The proposal marks the latest effort by US policymakers to prepare for potential financial risks from climate change, bringing the Fed into line with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which have separately proposed their own plans.

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The potential impacts of climate change — rising sea levels, worsening floods and fires, and government policies moving away from carbon-heavy industries — could destroy trillions of dollars in assets worldwide.

The Fed said these financial implications “constitute an emerging risk to the integrity and integrity of financial institutions and to the financial stability of the United States.”

The Fed’s plan requires banks to consider climate-related financial risks in their audits, manage other risks, and add climate-related scenario analysis to the traditional stress test. The report suggested that banks should also assess and consider whether they should include climate-related risks in their liquidity reserves.

The debate over the extent of financial system risks posed by climate change has been politically charged. Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller opposed Friday’s proposal, raising the question of whether it represented a serious risk to the safety of large banks or financial stability in the United States.

“Climate change is real, but I do not agree with the premise that it poses a serious risk to the safety and integrity of major banks and the financial stability of the United States,” Waller said in a statement released alongside the proposal. “The Fed conducts regular stress tests on large banks that deliver very severe macroeconomic shocks and show that banks are resilient.”

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Gov. Michele Bowman endorsed the plan for public input with reservations, noting that the board should consider the “costs and benefits of any new projections.”

The proposal will be open to public comment for 60 days.

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More than 1,000 New York Times union employees plan to quit over payroll, reports Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The New York Times Building in Manhattan, New York, US, August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

(Reuters) – More than 1,000 unionized employees of The New York Times Company have pledged to quit if the news publisher does not agree to a “full and fair contract” by Dec. 8, according to a union tweet on Friday.

The New York Times NewsGuild sought “inflationary” wages as well as preserving and enhancing health insurance and retirement benefits promised during employment, according to a letter signed by 1,036 members.

“We will be out and about for 24 hours, Thursday, December 8th, if we do not have a full and fair contract agreement in place by then,” the letter said.

Union members are also asking for flexibility to work remotely, among other demands.

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A spokesperson for The New York Times said “While we are disappointed that NewsGuild is threatening to strike, we stand ready to ensure The Times continues to serve our readers without interruption,” adding that the company’s current pay offer offered “significant increases.”

Earlier in March, a group of nearly 600 tech employees at The New York Times voted to unionize as the company faced allegations that it illegally interfered with organizing work.

In August, approximately 300 Thomson Reuters (NYSE: Corp) journalists in the US, represented by the same NewsGuild, also staged a 24-hour strike while the union negotiated a new three-year contract with the company.

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