Questions and answers about
the UK economy.

Banks as bridges? firm funding during the Covid-19 cash crunch

We conduct face-to-face interviews with the Heads of Credit of over 400 banks in 35 countries in Emerging Europe, Asia and the Middle East to collect data on these banks’ Covid-19 policies. We cover whether banks temporarily deferred payments by existing clients; provided bridge loans to new and/or existing clients; closed branches; and had to change the intensity of client monitoring. We ask whether banks engaged in any of these actions because of government policies or of their own accord to gain a competitive advantage. We also ask banks to what extent the temporary suspension of local courts had a negative effect on debt enforcement. We then combine these bank-level survey data with two other data sets. First, we collect new and comprehensive information on the geographical footprint of each of these banks’ branch networks. Second, we merge in Orbis data on the universe of firms in these 35 countries, which provides us with panel data on firms’ balance sheets, geographic location, and main bank(s). Using these novel data, we investigate how variation in banks’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic affected existing borrowers as well as potential new clients near a bank’s branches. We assess the impact on firms’ financial performance (liquidity ratios and access to debt), job retention, and survival prospects due to variation banks’ response to Covid-19. This strategy allows us to document how pre-existing bank branch networks influenced how the pandemic affected local economies.

Lead investigator:

Cagatay Bircan


European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Primary topic:

Business, big & small

Region of data collection:


Status of data collection

In Progress

Type of data being collected:

From private company

Unit of real-time data collection


Start date


End date




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