How Did COVID-19 Affect Firms' Access to Public Capital Markets?
35 Pages Posted: 11 May 2020 Last revised: 16 Sep 2020
Date Written: June 24, 2020
We find that bond issues increased substantially since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in calendar week 12 (March 16-20) for bonds rated A or higher, but surprisingly also for bonds rated BBB or lower. In contrast to existing evidence on bond maturities in economic downturns, we document that maturities exceed those of bonds issued before by the same firms as well as the average maturities during normal times. Determinants of corporate bond spreads differ substantially between COVID-19 and normal periods. Most prominently, asset tangibility has a highly significant negative effect on spreads during normal times. In the COVID-19 period this is reversed, especially in industries heavily affected by lock-down measures, reflecting the inflexibility associated with fixed assets. A different picture emerges for equity issues, which slowed considerably during the first four weeks of the pandemic before accelerating again. Capital raised during COVID-19 via equity issues is approximately 5% of capital raised via bond issues.
Keywords: Corporate bond market, pandemic, COVID-19
JEL Classification: G01, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation