RICS raises 'grey rhino' question in coronavirus talks

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) will be asking the property industry whether the Covid-19 crisis is 'a black swan or a grey rhino event?' at an upcoming webinar on the industry's supreme challenge.

'It goes without saying that this is an unprecedent shock to the economy and that a short-term recession is inevitable in Europe over the coming months,' said RICS’ chief economist Simon Rubinsohn.

'The critical issue from a macro perspective is whether a second leg down can be avoided, once the virus has run its course, and/or another sovereign bond crisis emerges,' Rubinsohn added.

The webinar, which will have a pan-European mandate, is titled 'The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on real estate in Europe – A black swan or a grey rhino event?', and is due to take place on 7 April.

The digital conference is being backed by PwC, Hollis Global, Arcadis, Newsec, Cocuzza & Associati and Altamira Asset Management. Some 50% of their contributions will be donated to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support the defeat of the Covid-19 virus, RICS said.

While 'black swan' has become popular parlance for surprising events which have a severely negative economic and political impact, 'grey rhino' is a term coined by US author Michele Wucker, to describe a 'highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat... grey rhinos are not random surprises, but occur after a series of warnings and visible evidence'.

The discussion is part of RICS' World Built Environment Forum initiative, which invites industry members to join forces digitally to find global solutions to the current crisis.

Rubinsohn added: 'The response from European governments is strengthening; confirmation that temporary fiscal measures related to combating Covid-19 will be excluded from the assessment of compliance with the fiscal rules has been followed by an agreement has all euro countries can draw on a credit line up to 2% of GDP.

'More stimulus may yet be needed but in conjunction with the measures taken by the ECB this could hopefully pave the way for the economy to stabilise during the second half of the year.'

RICS currently represents over 130,000 professionals in the construction, real estate and infrastructure sector worldwide.


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