When bigger isn’t better: UK firms’ equity price performance during the Covid-19 pandemic

Tommaso Aquilante, David Bholat, Andreas Joseph, Riccardo M Masolo, Tim Munday and David van Dijcke

Background

Covid-19 (Covid) has had heterogeneous effects on different groups of people. For example, it’s had larger negative impacts on contact-intense occupations (Leibovici, Santacreu and Famiglietti (2020)), low wage earners (Joyce and Xu (2020)) and low-income households (Surico, Känzig and Hacioglu (2020) and Chetty et al (2020)). In this blog, we show that UK listed firms have been heterogeneously impacted too (compare Hassan et al (2020); Griffith, Levell and Stroud (2020)). Surprisingly, small firms’ stock prices have been more resilient on average. Or, to put it differently, being bigger hasn’t been better for firms during the pandemic. However, being big with a modern tilt towards intangibles turned out to be beneficial too.

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There’s more to house prices than interest rates

Lisa Panigrahi and Danny Walker

The average house in the UK is worth ten times what it was in 1980. Consumer prices are only three times higher. So house prices have more than trebled in real terms in just over a generation. In the 100 years leading up to 1980 they only doubled. Recent commentary on this blog and elsewhere argues that this unprecedented rise in house prices can be explained by one factor: lower interest rates. But this simple explanation might be too simple. In this blog post – which analyses the data available before Covid-19 hit the UK – we show that the interest rates story doesn’t seem to fit all of the facts. Other factors such as credit conditions or supply constraints could be important too.

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Fog in the Channel? How have equity markets reacted to Brexit news?

Srdan Tatomir, Iryna Kaminska, Marek Raczko and Gregory Thwaites

How have equity markets responded to news about Brexit? To answer this we split firms into those whose share prices are particularly sensitive to Brexit-related news, and those which are not.  The latter group provides a “control sample”, against which to assess the impact of individual pieces of news on the former. The ratio of the two groups’ prices gives a barometer of equity market sentiments around Brexit. So far, this measure points to downward pressure on valuation of companies more exposed to Brexit. The bulk of the fall occurred on the night of the referendum, with little movement afterwards, suggesting little additional “news” from subsequent developments beyond the immediate aftermath.

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