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New Model Shows Many More US Homes Face Large Risk of Flooding

Source: First Street Foundation

Nearly 70% more properties in the United States are at risk of flooding than official government estimates suggest. A new model by First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology firm, shows that a total of 14.6 million properties across the country are at substantial risk — 5.9 million of these properties are unaware of, or underestimating, the risk. FEMA only classifies 8.7 million properties with substantial flood risk.

The model predicts that large swaths of the Midwest and inland Western are at risk of flooding; however, the risk is greatest for coastal states. West Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Idaho and Montana are showing the greatest proportion of properties categorized as substantial risk.

Data for the model includes areas that FEMA does not, as well as current and future climate risks which helps predict how flood risk will change over the next 30 years. By 2050, the nonprofit predicts the number of properties with substantial risk across the U.S. will increase by 11% to 16.2 million. 

Support for Black-Owned Businesses Surges in 2020

Source: Yelp

Yelp recorded a 7,043% increase in searches for Black-owned businesses this year. There were more than 2,500,000 searches for the term “Black-owned” from May 25 to July 10, 2020, compared to approximately 35,000 searches during the same time period in 2019, according to an analysis by Yelp

A variety of industries are experiencing this surge in consumer interest in Black-owned businesses, but restaurants and bookstores have seen the highest uptick in searches on Yelp at an increase of 2,508% and 1,437%, respectively. This interest is largely due to the Black Lives Matter protests, which continue to erupt across the United States.

The movement has sparked a global conversation and prompted many to participate in #BlackOutDay, which encouraged consumers to shop exclusively at Black-owned stores. Most consumers say they want to see organizations speak out against racial injustice and use their resources to support the Black community.

China Complicates Debt Payment Deferral Plans in Sub-Saharan Africa

Source: Natixis

Actual relief for low-income countries impacted by coronavirus will be lower than originally expected, according to a report by Natixis. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa have steadily accrued debt to China over the last decade, but now, a lack of clarity around China’s involvement as a creditor is complicating efforts to address relief plans. 

The Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), recently proposed by G-20 finance heads, defers low-income countries’ debt service payments — 38 of the 73 eligible countries are from sub-Saharan Africa. But confusion around which Chinese creditors are participating in the DSSI and “the evolving nature of the private sector in cross-border credit” are both cited by Natixis as issues with China’s role as a creditor. 

As coronavirus cases are still escalating in sub-Saharan Africa, the economy will likely continue to deteriorate, potentially increasing the need from countries in this region to seek credit. The report warns that the EU should continue to deliver liquidity relief to eligible countries at the rate that was originally promised.

The Oil Industry Is Impacting COVID Relief for the Middle East and Central Asia

Source: International Monetary Fund

Countries on x-axis as follows: Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Morocco, Mauritania, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Armenia, Kuwait, Sudan, West Bank, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, Oman, Turkmenistan, Yemen

Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia have received the smallest COVID-19 economic relief packages compared to other regions across the world. Average fiscal support in the region is above 2% of GDP and has prioritized health care and vulnerable households and businesses, according to a July 2020 report from the International Monetary Fund. 

The relatively lower level of support — the global average hovers around 4% of GDP — is due to “constrained policy space among oil importers and existing sizable government support in the economy among most oil exporters.”

Many countries in the region were impacted by severe oil price fluctuations earlier this year, and although the deal made by OPEC+ helped stabilize the industry, prices are still extremely low. The region’s GDP is now projected to be -4.7% for 2020, the report says, making continued direct fiscal support an essential element of recovery.

Chinese M&A Activity Plummets During COVID-19

Source: Rhodium Group

China’s outbound M&A activity contracted by two-thirds between January and May, 2020, according to a report from Rhodium Group, compared to the average monthly count between 2016 and 2018. For the first time in 10 years, foreign investment deals into Chinese firms are outpacing those coming out of China. 

Companies have braced for investment activity from China amid the economic recession, but “there are no signs of a Chinese outbound investment boom, like the one seen after the global financial crisis a decade ago,” the report notes. “Instead, takeovers are headed in the other direction: into China.” Foreign investors are pursuing Chinese assets as the country’s consumption has risen along with its middle class. Policies that previously limited foreign investment in the country have also been lifted, and Chinese firms are seeing increasing maturation. 

Although China is the second-largest economy in the world, its fate as a global investor is not certain. Moving forward, China will need to succeed in certain domestic policy reforms and gain the trust of foreign investors, the report says — neither of which is guaranteed.

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