CNBC: CEO of Major Asian Bank Says 'A Big, Big Challenge' is Looming for the Global Economy

July 20, 2020

Article by Yen Nee Lee in CNBC financial

The economic aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to worsen when authorities start rolling back relief measures — and banks could experience “far more damage” to their balance sheets, said Piyush Gupta, group chief executive of Singaporean bank DBS.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Managing Asia” anchor Christine Tan, Gupta said government stimulus in many countries is helping businesses tide through the current difficult period. But when those measures come to an end, many companies may not survive, he explained.

“If a lot of companies are not able to survive ... you’ll have this million-dollar question of how do you deal with these ‘zombie companies,’” said the CEO.

“Do you keep printing money ... using public finances to support companies or do you let creative destruction happen a la Schumpeter? This is going to be a real challenge particularly in the SME space around the world, I suspect this will be a big, big challenge next year,” he added.

The CEO said politics and civil society would make it difficult for governments to continue supporting those businesses financially for long periods. That “means that you’ll start seeing a lot more default, which in turn means that you’ll start seeing the problems spill over to the financial sector,” he explained.

For banks, there would be “far more damage” to their balance sheets, said Gupta.“I think you will see more stress on the financial system in the later part of this year and next year without a doubt. And that’s just because ...

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