Learning Center

Back

Government Acts to Blunt Financial Impact of Global Pandemic

On March 11, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was officially declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, and two days later President Trump declared a national emergency.1 The unknowns surrounding a new virus make it difficult to predict the potential human and economic toll, but unprecedented steps are being taken to help slow the spread of the disease and prepare medical facilities to treat a rising number of cases. Businesses are suffering losses as they spend more to help keep workers and customers safe and/or have closed their doors to the public.

The economy — in the United States and globally — has been interrupted as abruptly as our daily routines, and a downturn is looming. This jarring reality triggered the first bear market for U.S. stocks in 11 years.2 Many people are now working from home, but a record number of workers (3.3 million) filed for unemployment in one harrowing week.3

The financial impact of the health crisis is likely to be more severe for some households, businesses, and industries than others. With lives and livelihoods at risk, the Federal Reserve, state governments, and the federal government have responded with a full slate of emergency measures.

An image of the Federal Reserve Building with stock market ticks in the sky.

Central Bank in Action

The Federal Reserve moved swiftly in recent weeks to support the U.S. economy and help alleviate stress in the financial markets. On March 3, the Fed dropped the target range for the benchmark federal funds rate by one-half percentage point to 1.00% to 1.25%, stating that the coronavirus posed evolving risks to the economic outlook.4

Following an emergency session on Sunday, March 15, the Fed slashed the rate to near zero (0% to 0.25%) and committed to at least $700 billion in debt purchases. This policy was later expanded to essentially unlimited debt purchases “in amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.” The U.S. central bank is also extending currency swaps with foreign central banks to keep high-demand U.S. dollars flowing freely around the world.5

Citing emergency powers, the Federal Reserve launched a number of lending facilities to keep credit flowing to households and businesses. These operations required permission from the Treasury Secretary and are protected from losses with Treasury funds.6

The Commercial Paper Funding Facility ensures that companies retain access to an important source of short-term credit (IOUs) often used to fund regular expenses including payroll and rent. The Primary Dealer Credit Facility provides funding to financial institutions that trade directly with the Fed and serve as market makers for U.S. Treasuries.7

The Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility will help ensure that funds can meet investor demand for redemptions. This backstop was originally limited to prime funds, which invest in short-term corporate debt, but was expanded to include funds with municipal debt. A crisis-era lending facility used to support the consumer and business credit market has also been revived.8

Two facilities have been added to support corporate debt markets. One will provide four-year bridge financing to companies with investment-grade ratings, and the other will purchase highly-rated U.S. corporate bonds. A Main Street Business Lending Program for small employers is also in the works.9

Chairman Powell has said the Fed will do everything in its power to help stabilize the markets, so lending programs could be added or expanded.10

Relief on the Way

The federal tax filing deadline has been delayed to July 15, so taxpayers have extra time to file tax returns and make payments without interest or penalties. Many states decided to match the new federal deadline.11

An initial relief bill passed in early March provided $8.3 billion in emergency health-care funding. A phase two relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, includes free coronavirus testing and increased funding for food security programs, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance.12

This bill also provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave for affected workers at companies with 500 or fewer employees. This includes those caring for children whose schools are closed. Small and midsize employers will be reimbursed with tax credits for wages paid to affected workers.13

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is the most generous stimulus package in U.S. history. Many households will receive cash payments ($1,200 per adult and $500 per child) from the IRS within weeks if their incomes fall under certain thresholds. Unemployment insurance was prolonged from 26 to 39 weeks and will provide an extra $600 per week for four months. This benefit was extended to self-employed individuals, gig workers, and independent contractors who would not have qualified under the old rules.14

A $500 billion lifeline could backstop trillions in bridge loans and offer some direct aid for hard-hit cities, states, and large employers. The government can seek company equity in extreme cases. Another $349 billion will fund loans for small businesses (under 500 employees); eligible employers can borrow up to $10 million for working capital through an existing Small Business Administration program. Many paperwork requirements have been waived, and amounts paid for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, and payrolls could be forgiven if workers are retained.15

The scope of losses may ultimately depend on how quickly the spread of the virus is controlled and effective treatments and/or a vaccine are developed so the economy can reopen. But there is hope that the government policy response will save lives and help mitigate the economic effects.

Although these times are stressful for everyone, it may help to keep in mind that the U.S. economy is much like the people who live here — resourceful and resilient. We have endured shocks and recovered from serious crises before, and we can do so again.

All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.

 

Information provided has been prepared from Broadridge Advisor Solutions sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Broadridge Advisor Solutions is not an affiliate of AXA Advisors, LLC. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation. Neither AXA Advisors nor any of the data provided by AXA Advisors or its content providers, such as Broadridge Advisor Solutions, shall be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for the actions taken in reliance therein. By accessing the AXA Advisors website, a user agrees to abide by the terms and conditions of the site including not redistributing the information found therein.

Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC. Annuity and insurance products offered through AXA Network, LLC and its subsidiaries.

Equitable Advisors is the brand name of AXA Advisors, LLC (Member FINRA, SIPC)

California Insurance License #: OB30846

Raymond Preston has earned the Retirement Planning Specialist (RPS) title. The Retirement Planning Specialist title is awarded by Equitable Advisors, based upon the Financial Professional's (FP) receipt of a Certificate in Retirement Planning from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In a collaboration between the Wharton School and Equitable Advisors' affiliated life insurance carrier, coursework for the certificate was developed exclusively for Equitable Advisors FPs, and the title may be used only by FPs who have completed the required coursework and maintain the title through ongoing continuing education requirements. To verify that an FP has earned and holds the title in good standing, contact us at atretirement@equitable.com. Complaints about an Equitable Advisors FP should be directed to customer.relations@equitable.com. Equitable Advisors is the brand name of AXA Advisors, LLC.

Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC (212-314-4600), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory products and services offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, an investment advisor registered with the SEC. Annuity and insurance products from AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY, NY) and those of unaffiliated carriers are offered through AXA Network, LLC and its insurance agency subsidiaries. AXA Network, LLC does business in California as AXA Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC and, in Utah, AXA Network Insurance Agency of Utah, LLC. AXA Advisors and its affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals may transact business and/or respond to inquiries only in state(s) in which they are properly registered and/or licensed. The information in this web site is not investment or securities advice and does not constitute an offer.

Retirement Benefits Group is a specialized division of AXA Advisors, LLC. AXA Advisors, AXA Network, and AXA Equitable are affiliated companies.

Equitable Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded corporation, and its subsidiaries are currently using trademarks including the "AXA" name, AXA logo and associated trademarks of AXA SA under license.

Link to equitable.com

Privacy Policy

Check the background of this financial professional on FINRA's BrokerCheck
Check the background of this financial professional on FINRA's BrokerCheck