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Timeline: US Action Countering the Economic Impact of the Coronavirus

Robert R. Fragnito | Chief Operating Officer | Financial Advisor 

The outbreak of the coronavirus is perhaps one of the most unprecedented and impactful epidemics in the modern economic history of the United States. As we digest the fallout of the market’s significant decline and continued volatility, investors are focusing on recent rapid-fire monetary and fiscal policy actions in countering the economic impacts of the coronavirus. 

Here is a timeline of actions taken by the Federal Reserve and Federal Government in addressing the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We hope you will find this information helpful. Please note: our timeline covers events from March 6 to April 24.

March 6: The First Stimulus Package

  • The first major emergency legislation to combat COVID-19 is passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. The $8.3 billion aid package funds prevention and existing efforts to combat the virus and specifically allocates $3 billion for vaccine research. For more information on Phase 1 visit Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental.

March 12: The Fed Steps In

  • The Federal Reserve in addition to two other measures in the same week announces it will inject over $1.5 trillion into the financial system to calm markets over potential liquidity concerns. 

March 13: National Emergency Declared and Student Loans Addressed

  • Trump declares a national emergency in order to free up over $50 billion to assist Americans effected by the coronavirus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallies by 9.4% posting a 1,985-point gain, the index’s largest one-day gain. 
  • The President also waives all interest on federal student loans for the duration of pandemic, the Department of Education on March 20 confirms and retroactively suspends interest to March 13 on account of concerns. The DOE also declared automatic forbearances, a suspension of payments for up to 60-days, to anyone who requests them.

March 15: Fed Funds Rate Goes to Zero

  • The US Federal Reserve cuts its Fed Funds Rate to zero (0%-0.25%) and announces a $700 billion-dollar quantitative easing (QE) program to counter the potential effects of the coronavirus on the US economy. The QE program will purchase over $500 billion for Treasury securities and $200 billion for agency-backed mortgage securities. The Fed later expands its purchases to municipal securities

March 17: The Fed Establishes Further Measures to Address Liquidity and Commercial Paper

  • The Federal Reserve announces a Primary Dealer Credit Facility to provide additional liquidity directly to large banks to keep credit markets flowing. The Fed also establishes the Commercial Paper Funding Facility to directly purchase corporate paper directly from issuing corporations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained this measure could amount to $1 trillion in purchases but does not expect this program to reach that level. 
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announces automatic 90-day extension for taxes owed by individuals and businesses. Filing still required for April 15. Mnuchin also pledges to send direct payments to Americans within two weeks.

March 18: Phase-2 Stimulus 

  • President Trump signs into law the second major coronavirus aid package which gives $100 billion for emergency paid leave, unemployment insurance, and free testing for the virus. There was overwhelming support for the bill in both houses of Congress, but members on the Hill begin preparations for another larger bill. For More information on Phase 2 visit The Families First Coronavirus Response (“FFCRA”) Act.

March 19: Department of Energy announces purchase of 77 million barrels of American-made Oil

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) at the direction of President Donald Trump announces it will fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to maximum capacity.  The DOE solicited for the purchase of 30 million barrels on March 19 to begin filling the SPR and will follow-up with additional solicitations to purchase 77 million barrels of American-made crude oil. 
  • The DOE announcement follows Trump’s direction from March 13 to assist US energy producers in the midst of an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

March 23: The Fed Declares Unlimited Measures and announces near-future Mainstreet Initiative

  • The Federal Reserve announces an open-ended commitment under its quantitative easing measures. The Fed will purchase corporate bonds for the first time in its history, these will be investment-grade bonds issued in the primary and secondary markets in addition to exchange-traded funds. 
  • The Main Street Business Lending Program will be focused on small to medium sized business to support the efforts of the SBA (Small Business Administration). 

March 26: US Federal Reserve balance sheet tops $5 trillion in assets

  • The Federal Reserve reported on its website that its balance sheet toped $5 trillion in assets. Total assets rose from $586 billion to $5.25 trillion. This is the first time its balance sheet reached this level in efforts to maintain liquidity for debt markets.

March 27: $2 Trillion Dollar Stimulus Package Signed into Law, Defense Production Act is Activated

  • The $2 trillion CARES Act is signed into law by President Trump making this the largest economic rescue package ever passed by the Federal Government in the history of the United States. The aim of this legislation is to provide aid to individuals and businesses that have been negatively impacted by this virus. For more information on Phase 3 visit Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) Act.
  • Trump invokes the Defense Production Act (DPA) and calls on General Motors (GM) to begin production of ventilators for distribution. 

March 29: Social Distance Guidelines Extended, No Quarantine for NY-NJ-CT

  • President Trump extends social distancing guidelines until April 30 and expects the coronavirus pandemic to peak within two weeks. The administration will discuss the extension in greater detail on Tuesday, March 31. 
  • The Trump administration does not impose tri-state quarantine for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut after the White House Coronavirus Task Force persuades the President to maintain travel advisory.
  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin in an interview with Fox News Sunday said he expects to launch a small business loan program within a week. Small businesses should expect to apply for loans at any bank, any credit union, or any fintech lender. Mnuchin also said workers should receive direct deposits or checks from the stimulus package within three-weeks.  

March 30: Pelosi touts another Stimulus Package

March 31: US Treasury and SBA Mobilize Distribution, Trump floats $2T infrastructure stimulus 

  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Carranza announce mobilization effort of banks and lending institutions to provide small businesses with capital. Under the CARES Act, the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program will provide relief to small businesses to sustain payrolls and keep workers employed.
  • President Donald Trump suggests the US should take advantage of zero interest rates and embark on a $2 trillion infrastructure program
  • Reuters reports that President Trump signs off on plan to defer US tariffs for most-favored nations for three months, the plan does not defer tariffs on Section 301 and 232 goods from China and Europe.
  • In the White House’s daily press briefing, President Trump said the coronavirus pandemic could peak within two weeks projecting between 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US.  
  • The US Federal Reserve broadens access of US dollars for foreign central banks by allowing exchanges of US Treasury securities for overnight dollar loans. 

April 1: Fed temporarily eases bank leverage requirements

  • The US Federal Reserve announces it is temporarily easing leverage rules for large banks by exempting any holdings in US Treasury debt or deposits at the Fed from the supplementary leverage ratio (SLR) calculation. This effort aims to ease rapid deteriorating conditions in the US government debt market allowing larger banks to continue lending.

April 2: Jobless claims up sharply, Mnuchin discusses roll-out of aid to Small Businesses & Individuals

  • Jobless claims for the week ending March 28 increased to 6.65 million in the wake of mitigating the coronavirus outbreak. The release by the Department of Labor surpassed analyst estimates of 3.76 million. The week prior was revised to 3.31 million claims. 
  • During the White House’s daily briefing Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the application system for SBA loans will be up and running on Friday, April 3.  In addition, Mnuchin said the Treasury and the SBA increased interest rates on loans to small businesses from 0.5% to 1% to deter possible lending loses for small banks. CNBC reported that large banks said they are not prepared to roll-out the $350 billion loan program, and are awaiting further guidance from Treasury and the SBA. JPMorgan Chase was the first bank to publicly declare this message to its customers.
  • Secretary Mnuchin said he is ‘assuring’ the American public that stimulus checks will be directly deposited into bank accounts in two weeks.  

April 3: Unemployment at 4.4%, Trump meets Oil Executives, SBA roll-out, Fourth Stimulus discussions - Pelosi scales back on infrastructure

  • US unemployment increased to 4.4% for March 2020. The Department of Labor said nonfarm payrolls dropped by 701,000 in March making this the first drop in payrolls since September 2010.
  • Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee said in a memo that the government is expected to make 60 million bank deposit payments during the week of April 13, but will not be able to send out paper stimulus checks until May 4, Reuters reported April 3. The committee expects that Americans who don’t have their bank information on file may have to wait up-to 20-weeks before receiving their stimulus checks. The IRS and the Treasury Secretary have said that a portal will be established by the end of April to allow individuals to input current bank information to receive stimulus payments.
  • President Donald met with executives from seven oil companies to address an ongoing dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia over a deal for oil production. Trump said “we’ll work this out and we’ll get our energy business back. I’m with you 1000%." Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the US is still planning on purchasing oil for the SPR despite suspending its March 19 request for a $3 billion oil purchase program due to lack of Congressional appropriation in the $2 trillion stimulus package.
  • The application process for the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) launches as large banks struggle to administer the relief program for small businesses. Bank of America reported over 85,000 customers applied for $22.2 billion in loans. JPMorgan Chase started accepting applications after 1:00 PM EST on Friday. Wells Fargo announced on its website that it could not accept applications.
  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that community banks processed over 700 loans for $2.5 million, he added that all large US banks will be participating in the PPP by next week.
  • Leaders in both houses of Congress floated ideas over a fourth stimulus bill to address the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the next bill should address shortcomings from the previous stimulus and make health care a top priority. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also discussed expanding benefits outlined in the last stimulus bill, but scaled back on incorporating infrastructure measures.
  • Federal agencies including the Fed issued a joint statement providing regulatory flexibility to encourage mortgage servicers to work with struggling homeowners during the coronavirus pandemic.  

April 4: Pelosi wants 4th stimulus bill on the House floor at the end of April, Trump to immediately ask for more aid for Small Businesses if money runs out

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter to fellow House members said she wants a second CARES Act bill expanding benefits from the previous package to come to the House floor by the end of April. A group of House Republican members in a letter to President Trump cautioned against passing a Phase-4 bill until results are witnessed from implementing existing stimulus measures.
  • President Donald Trump said during his White House briefing that he would immediately ask Congress for more aid to small businesses if funds from the stimulus package were to run out. The President said, “When we open, we want to open strong with businesses that are going.”

April 5: White House Coronavirus Task Force advisers fight over use of hydroxychloroquine

  • Axios reported on Sunday that economic adviser Peter Navarro and health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci had a heated exchange in the White House Situation Room over the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in combating COVID-19 on Saturday, April 4. More details on the White House drama here

April 6: Russia and Saudi Arabia "very close" on oil deal, Fed to establish facility for SBA Paycheck Protection Program

  • Russia's sovereign wealth fund (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in an interview with CNBC that a deal to cut oil production with Saudia Arabia was “very, very close.” Dmitriev also said that Russia was working closely with the US to make American oil producers participate in the cut. Sources close to the matter told CNBC that a virtual OPEC meeting was likely to take place on Thursday of this week.
  • The Federal Reserve said in a press release on April 6 that it will establish a facility to provide term financing to the SBA Paycheck Protection Program to facilitate lending to smalls businesses. The Federal will provide additional details this week.

April 7: Mnuchin seeks additional $250 billion from Congress for Small Businesses

  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin held talks with senior congressional leaders to help secure an additional $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program as demand for financial assistance from small businesses surges.

April 8: Fed Minutes released, US lenders gain more access to SBA program, Treasury and Fed to launch lending facility to large businesses, Fourth stimulus discussions continue

  • The Fed released its March 15 meeting minutes indicating concern from members over the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. The Fed's members deemed it appropriate to maintain the fed funds rate at its lowest level (0%-.25%) until officials are confident that the economy weathers the virus.
  • US lenders who have never registered with the Small Business Administration (SBA) gain more access to the small business relief program through the launch of a new online portal. 
  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC that his department and the Fed will be launching a lending facility for large businesses who are not investment grade to provide aid during the coronavirus economic downturn.
  • Republican and Democrat members of Congress continue discussions with administration officials over fourth stimulus package to ease economic impact of the coronavirus.

April 9: The Fed to inject another $2.3 Trillion, Jobless claims up by 6.6 million, Saudi Arabia & Russia reach deal, the Senate Adjourns

  • Fed Chairman Jerome Powell announced a series of new emergency initiatives totaling $2.3 trillion to give aid to businesses and state and municipal governments.  Summary here and full online conference here
  • US jobless claims were up by 6.6 million totaling over 16 million Americans or 10% of the workforce who have lost their jobs in three weeks. 
  • Saudi Arabia and Russia reached a deal on oil production cuts of 10 million barrels per day.
  • Senate Democrats blocked Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from holding an unanimous vote over increasing $250 billion in aid to small business.  The Senate will be adjourned until Monday. 

April 13: Northeastern and Western States plan reopening of economies, Trump Administration to complete plan to reopen economy, NY Fed to reduce repo operations, 80 million Americans to receive checks this week, US Airlines to repay grants, Agriculture Aid, Fauci won't be fired 

  • New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will work with Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to coordinate to gradually reopen their economies and lift restrictions, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday April 13. California Governor Gavin Newsom also said Monday that his state is working with Oregon and Washington to reopen their economies and lift restrictions. Newsom said he will present California's plan on Tuesday April 14.
  • President Trump in his daily briefing said that his administration is close to completing a plan to reopen the US economy.
  • The New York Fed will reduce repo operations during this month as conditions in the repo market stabilize. 
  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that more than 80 million Americans will see relief checks deposited in their bank accounts by Wednesday April 15. Mnuchin also said that the IRS will launch a website on April 15 for taxpayers to inquire about payments.
  • CNBC reported that the Treasury Department has asked US airlines to pay back 30% of payroll grants.
  • Reuters reported that the US Department of Agriculture will unveil a $15.5 billion first phase of farm aid to provide relief on the food supply chain. 
  • The White House on Monday said that President Trump will not fire top health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci after media storm erupts over Trump's retweet on Twitter. Fauci expressed he used a "poor choice  of words" during an interview with CNN on Sunday, April 12.

April 14: Trump to Complete Plan to Reopen Economy, California's Newsom unveils six points to reopen, Treasury and Airlines agree to payroll deal, Trump halts funding to WHO

  • President Donald Trump said he is close to completing a plan to reopen parts of the US economy by May 1. Trump said he would authorize governors to implement their plans to reopen their economies adding he will likely speak to the nation's governors via video conference on Thursday, April 16. Presidential authorization to reopen the economy across all 50 states has been a point of contention between Trump and state governors.  
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled six indicators to guide the reopening of California's economy, but said sporting events, concerts and school functions will be closed for the foreseeable future.  
  • US Airlines agree to $25 billion salary support program with the US Department of Treasury. The program should cover roughly 76% of airline payrolls for the next two quarters according to an analyst. The Treasury told airlines last week that 70% of the funds would be a grant and the remaining 30% of would be repayed through low-interest loans over a ten-year period with warrants convertible into equity. 
  • President Trump halted funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday saying the organization needed to be held accountable for promoting China's disinformation on the coronavirus pandemic. The US is the WHO's largest donor and contributed over $400 million or 15% of the organization's budget in 2019. 

April 16: Trump announces plan to reopen economy, Weekly Jobless claims over 5.245 million, SBA loan program runs out of money, Fed purchases and launch of PPP Facility

  • President Trump unveiled his three-phase guidelines to reopen the US economy giving governors discretion on how to implement the plan if closures are still needed. Guidelines can be found here.
  • The Department of Labor reports 5.245 million jobless claims for last week bringing total to 22 million as a result of the coronavirus crisis. 
  • The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration have exhausted the entire funding ($349 billion) for the Paycheck Protection Program. Leaders on Capitol Hill continue to debate over allotting an additional $250 billion to the program while away on recess until May 4.
  • The Federal Reserve announces its Paycheck Protection Program Facility is fully operational to provide liquidity to eligible financial institutions to help small businesses to keep workers employed.  
  • The Fed purchased $59.403 billion in agency mortgage-backed securities from April 9 - April 15 and sold $1 billion in mortgage securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

April 21: US Senate passes additional aid for PPP, Trumps tasks Mnuchin and DOE to develop plan to support oil industry, Trump pauses immigration

  • The US Senate passed an additional $480 billion in aid for the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus. The package also gives funds for virus testing and hospitals. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure on Thursday, April 23.
  • President Trump instructs Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to develop a plan to aid the US oil industry as historic sell-offs continue in the sector. 
  • President Trump announced his administration will pause immigration for permanent residents for 60-days to give relief to US citizens who are looking for jobs. Trump added that temporary workers in the US will not be affected by this order.

April 22: Treasury Secretary warns companies over payroll aid

  • US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned companies receiving coronavirus financial relief intended could be investigated if there is no financial need. Mnuchin said that if companies could not certify their economic need for relief on funds already received, they should return the money to Treasury and SBA. If funds are not returned, they may be subject to an investigation.

April 23: House Approves additional $484 billion for coronavirus relief, Fed Balance Sheet: $6.62 Trillion, Fed working on PPPLF

  • The US House of Representative approved expanding coronavirus relief package by another $484 billion.
  • The Fed Reserve’s Balance Sheet increased to $6.62 trillion rising as of April 22 by $200 billion.  
  • The Federal Reserve announces it is working to expand access to its Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF).

April 24: Trump signs additional $484 billion relief package, Fed allows unlimited withdrawals on savings account held at financial institutions

  • President Trump signs legislation adding $484 billion in coronavirus relief package. The package extends $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
  • The Federal Reserve announced that banks can allow its customers to make unlimited withdrawals and transfers from savings accounts.

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