COVID-19 and non-performing loans: lessons from past crises

Anil Ari, Sophia Chen, and Lev Ratnovski of ECB in this research look at NPL story.

During crises, the number of loans that cannot be paid back increases. What are the lessons from past crises for non-performing loan resolution after COVID-19? In this article we use a new database covering non-performing loans (NPLs) in 88 banking crises since 1990 to find out. The data show that dealing with NPLs is critical to economic recovery.

Compared with the 2008 crisis, some factors are conducive to NPL resolution this time: banks have higher capital, the forward-looking IFRS 9 accounting standards can help NPL recognition, and the COVID-19 crisis was not preceded by a credit boom. However, other factors could make NPL resolution more challenging: government debt is substantially higher, banks are less profitable, and corporate balance sheets are often weak.

 

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