The number of bankruptcies fell in 2020 in many countries. At first glance, this is a strange occurrence as 2020 was the year of the COVID-19 outbreak that caused lockdowns, a sharp decline in business activity, and negative economic growth.

We would have expected more businesses to fail, not fewer. In Japan, corporate bankruptcies (larger firms) fell to their lowest level in 30 years in 2020. In Singapore, personal bankruptcy orders and corporate insolvencies each fell by more than 40% from a year.

Business bankruptcy filings were down 30% in India and bankruptcies declined 30% in Malaysia.

Bankruptcies of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) fell by 29% in the Republic of Korea.

Data was not available for other countries.

The trend is similar outside of Asia. Business bankruptcy filings fell 5% in the United States and corporate insolvencies in Germany declined 15% in 2020, their lowest level in 20 years. Bankruptcies and bankruptcy proposals in Canada decreased by 24% in the first three quarters compared to the same period in 2019.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 27, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.