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Talks Continue on Next Phase of Coronavirus Stimulus as Federal Reserve Expands Main Street Lending Program

  • June 12, 2020

The Federal Reserve in Washington, DC

Trump Administration officials are signaling support for another Coronavirus stimulus package that Congress is expected to consider next month.  (Wall Street Journal, June 11)

  • After the House of Representatives on May 22 passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, congressional Republicans have signaled they may be open to another COVID-19 legislative package, but on a measured basis. (Forbes, May 21 and Roundtable Weekly, May 22) 
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on June 10 testified before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee: “I definitely think we are going to need another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy.  I think whatever we do going forward needs to be much more targeted, particularly to the industries and small businesses that are having the most difficulty in reopening as a result of COVID-19.” (RollCall, June 10)
  • Mnuchin on June 11 responded to a question by Jim Cramer of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” about future coronavirus stimulus plans and rental payment pressures faced by commercial real estate.
  • Mnuchin said, “On the commercial side … it is more complicated.  You have companies, particularly in retail, that are having a lot of issues. They are going to have to deal with the rent.  The landlords then have to deal with mortgage payments.”
  • The Treasury Secretary continued, “…how do we help the industries that are especially impacted –- and I would say hotels, travel, entertainment, restaurants are right up there.  So we are going to need to be much more targeted in making sure that we get people back to work and help these industries.”
  • White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on June 9 said the odds of passing additional coronavirus economic stimulus before Congress breaks for its August recess “are very, very high.”  Hasset added that the issue of business liability protections for employers is one of the “biggest problems” facing passage of another coronavirus package.  (Wall Street Journal, June 9 and Forbes, June 6).
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) emphasized the GOP’s position on May 18, stating on the Senate floor that “Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and I … are working on a proposal that would put common sense reforms in place and protect those acting in good faith from being sued into oblivion.”  (Cornyn statement).  Potential employer immunity and anticipated litigation related to Covid-19 were the focus of a May 12 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.  (Roundtable Weekly, May 15).
  • Sen. Cornyn this week stated the Republican liability proposal will be released next month. He added the plan would allow employers to choose which government coronavirus safety guidelines to follow while shielding them from lawsuits if their customers or workers contract the virus. (BGov, June 10)

A multi-sector coalition including real estate, tourism, technology, manufacturing, health care, and energy sector groups – led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – called upon Congress in a May 27 letter to enact temporary liability protections for businesses struggling to reopen and operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Federal Reserve Actions

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on June 10 stated the central bank will continue buying large quantities of bonds and leave interest rates near zero through at least 2022 as it anticipates the outbreak “will weigh heavily on economic activity” and “poses considerable risks to the economic outlook.”  (USA Today, June 10)

  • Powell added after the Fed’s two-day meeting this week, “This is the biggest economic shock, in the U.S. and the world, really, in living memory.  We went from the lowest level of unemployment in 50 years to the highest level in close to 90 years, and we did it in two months.”  (New York Times, June 10)
  • Powell stated, “To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, over coming months the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning, thereby fostering effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions.”  (FOMC statement and Economic Projections, June 10)
  • The Fed has purchased agency mortgage bonds during the pandemic at a record pace totaling $719 billion, more than $12 billion per day on average, according to the New York Fed. (BGov, June 11)
  • On June 8, The Federal Reserve Board on expanded its Main Street Lending Program to allow more small and medium-sized businesses to be able to receive support. The Board expects the Main Street program to be open for lender registration “soon” and to be actively buying loans shortly afterwards. (Fed news release)
  • The Main Street Lending Program was established with the approval of the Treasury Secretary and with $75 billion in equity provided by the Treasury Department from the coronavirus economic relief package, The CARES Act.

The changes include:

  • Lowering the minimum loan size for certain loans to $250,000 from $500,000;
  • Increasing the maximum loan size for all facilities;
  • Increasing the term of each loan option to five years, from four years;
  • Extending the repayment period for all loans by delaying principal payments for two years, rather than one; and
  • Raising the Reserve Bank's participation to 95% for all loans.
  • This chart has additional details on the changes.
  • Once lenders have successfully registered for the program, they will be encouraged to make Main Street loans immediately. The Main Street Lending Program intends to purchase 95% of each eligible loan that is submitted to the program after meeting all requirements. The Main Street Lending Program will also accept loans that were originated under the previously announced terms, if funded before June 10, 2020.

The Roundtable’s Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC) and Research Committee discussed the Fed’s actions as part of the economic outlook and the state of real estate capital and credit markets during its remote meeting yesterday held in conjunction with The Roundtable’s Virtual Annual Meeting.

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