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Mnuchin Confirms ‘Paycheck Protection Program’ Is Up And Running: Live Updates

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Via Zerohedge

Summary:

  • US nonfarm payrolls was an unmitigated disaster.
  • Russia reports drop in cases after extending quarantine
  • Bolsonaro urges country to “go back to work” as Brazil’s governors say opposite
  • Brazil says first COVID-19 case and death in South American happened 1 month earlier
  • Japan sees resurgence of cases continue
  • Spain, Germany report encouraging deceleration in new cases
  • Singapore launches strict 14-day lockdown to fight virus resurgence
  • Trump slams 3M on twitter
  • 400M in loans doled out
  • Bank of America becomes first big bank to issue loans via the plan
  • Mnuchin confirms ‘Paycheck Protection Plan’ is a go
  • Tokyo mayor warns about resurgence of cases on CNN

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Update (0944ET): Is Mnuchin going to keep a running ticker of loan figures? It’s starting to look that way:

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Update (0920ET): Bank of America just confirmed that it has started issuing loans through the program. Now, will we see the rest of the big banks turn on the taps in the next few hours?

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Update (0912ET): Thousands of small and medium-sized business owners just breathed a huge sigh of relief.

After reassuring the public during last night’s press conference that the bailout bill’s “Paycheck Protection Program” would be up and running “tomorrow” (i.e. Friday), Mnuchin tweeted Friday morning that the first loans had been issued via the program, and that small business owners are now welcome to apply.

So far, community banks have issued 700 loans…

…and big banks are expected to come online shortly.

Last night, Mnuchin revealed that the administration had agreed to pay Wall Street a 50 bp ‘tribute’ on all loans (ie billions of additional dollars in risk-free profits) issued via the program.

All of this comes after the BLS released a surprisingly discouraging jobs report, showing that more than 700k jobs have been destroyed in the last month, ending a more than 110-month streak of job creation that began after the end of the financial crisis.

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As we arrive at the end of another week, In NYC, subway trains are still crowded with commuters as the MTA is forced to reduce trains and cars as more of its workforce falls ill or simply refuses to show up. As the number of hospitalized patients surges, the city’s hospital system has already run out of ICU beds, forcing Gov. Cuomo to move coronavirus patients to the Javits Center, which was initially intended for hospital overflow patients. Amid all of this, the state’s unemployment fund is in worrisome shape, meaning New Yorkers will soon need to depend solely on federal benefits if the state well runs dry.

After the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 1 million on Thursday, several Asian territories and countries, including Singapore and Hong Kong, are struggling with a second wave of COVID-19 cases that health officials claim is mostly travel-related. As we reported a few days back, China has reimposed lockdowns as begins to disclose “asymptomatic” cases that government functionaries explained were left out of China’s initial case totals.

One month ago, on March 3, there were 92,000 coronavirus cases, most of them in mainland China. As of Friday, the US and Europe account for the bulk of the world’s more than 1 million confirmed cases.

Professor Gabriel Leung, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, warned on Friday that the pandemic would likely last a few more months, even if heavy-handed prevention strategies are adopted. He also said the warmer weather would give the world no respite from the virus: “Is warmer weather going to give us some respite? The answer is maybe, but probably not,” Leung said during a live-streamed forum, pushing back against prognostications made by the mainland’s leading respiratory disease expert, who assured the public that this would all be over by late April, even as Beijing continues to impose a near-moratorium on international and domestic flights.

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon on Friday announced a major shift as Singapore shutters workplaces and schools for a month, beginning next week, with the government calling the more aggressive containment measures a “circuit breaker” to avoid using the word “lockdown.’

As Nikkei explains, Lee’s decision marks a major shift in strategy for the city-state. Until now, Singapore had focused on strict border controls, thorough contact tracing of patients as well as extensive “social distancing” campaigns. While it encouraged telecommuting, it tried to keep life for businesses as normal as possible.

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One major change that could foreshadow a similar move by the White House: The Singaporean government is now advising citizens to wear facemasks in public.

Lee also addressed the “psychological toll” of the “circuit-breaker” (don’t call it a lockdown), in what one reporter described as a surprisingly thoughtful and forward-thinking change.

Despite the new measures, Singaporeans will need to continue sharing all their cell phone location data with the government as part of a sweeping program of monitoring and contract tracing that has alarmed privacy advocates.

Singaporean Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told reporters that “all of the workplace activities will have to come to a stop, meaning that everyone will have to work from home and at the work premises, there will be no one.” Unless a business has special permission or is deemed an essential service, “it will be an offense to still have operations at the workplace” and any violators will be punished.

Singapore’s decision comes after more local transmission and new clusters have been identified in recent days, including cases of undetermined origin. As of Friday morning, Singapore had reported 1,049 infections with five deaths. Additionally, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan have barred foreigners from entering in recent days. Early Friday morning, the Communist Party boss for the city of Wuhan warned that the risk of a full-on “resurgence” of the virus in the city was “still high.” Meanwhile, Japan has barred visitors from dozens of countries, including South Korea and the US. South Korea is mandating that foreign visitors spend 14-days in a government lockdown facility, though it hasn’t outright banned travelers from any country, though individuals from Hubei Province are banned.

Tokyo’s governor even appeared on CNN last night to warn that the situation in her city is rapidly worsening, as the number of new cases skyrockets.

By comparison, in US, over 75% of individuals, and 90% of GDP, are under mandatory lockdown, including 38 state-wide orders.

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Additionally, in other US news, President Trump bashed 3M, one of America’s largest manufacturers, in a late-night tweet, where he claimed he used DPA authority so speed up manufacturing of ventilators.

In other international news, a British-made invention that can reduce the spread of coronavirus is being bought up by governments around the world, but not by the NHS, the FT reported Friday. In Germany, health officials recorded more than 6,174 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, the latest sign that the growth rate of the virus is slowing. Spain also reported an encouraging slowdown in new cases.

 

Russia reported 601 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, a 17% jump in total cases that marks a slight slowing in the spread of the outbreak in the country. So far, Russia has reported 4,149 cases and 34 deaths from the virus, a much lower per-capita rate than many of its European peers.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to dismiss the risks of the virus. During a recent visit to a gas station in Sao Paolo covered by WSJ, Bolsonaro empathized with a worker to whom he spoke in the crowd.

“Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease,” he told him, according to the report. “People should go back to work.” But 25 of 27 of Brazil’s governors feel differently, and have been pushing Bolsonaro to endorse their safety guidelines. After Brazil’s case total ballooned to nearly 8,000 cases and 299 deaths, officials confirmed that a woman who died on Jan. 23 had been infected, more than a month before South America’s first confirmed case. It’s just the latest sign that the virus may have spread more widely across Latin America than many had previously believed.

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