On The Money: Surging coronavirus cases fuel lockdown fears | Mnuchin says he'll have bipartisan talks on PPP oversight | Fed launches emergency business lending program

On The Money: Surging coronavirus cases fuel lockdown fears | Mnuchin says he'll have bipartisan talks on PPP oversight | Fed launches emergency business lending program

Happy Monday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Surging coronavirus cases raise fears of new lockdowns: Sharp increases in the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed in states across the nation have some local elected officials considering pauses in reopening their economies.

  • The rising number of cases are hitting hardest in Sun Belt states like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. All four of those states reported their highest single-day increase in the number of confirmed cases over the weekend.
  • In all, 20 states confirmed more coronavirus cases in the last week than in the week prior. Ten states have recorded their highest-ever single-day counts in just the last week, according to an analysis by The Hill.
  • Officials have also pointed to a troubling trend in the number of people who must be hospitalized for treatment, raising anew the frightening prospect of an overwhelmed health system.

“If the trends we’re seeing right now get worse or continue to rise we are at a very high risk of getting to the point where the threat to our hospital system is severe and we have to backtrack,” Lina Hidalgo, the county judge in Harris County, Texas, told reporters on Thursday.

The Hill’s Reid Wilson and Peter Sullivan explain here.

On tap tomorrow

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking Committee during a virtual hearing on the bank’s semi-annual monetary policy report at 10 a.m.
  • A House Financial Services subcommittee holds a virtual hearing on financial fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic at 12 p.m.


Mnuchin says he'll have bipartisan discussions on oversight of PPP loans: Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting Major Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report MORE on Monday said that he will have discussions with lawmakers on a bipartisan basis about oversight of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) after Democrats blasted him for suggesting the names of loan recipients would not be released.

"I will be having discussions with the Senate @SmallBizCmte and others on a bipartisan basis to strike the appropriate balance for proper oversight of #ppploans and appropriate protection of small business information," Mnuchin said on Twitter. 

During a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing last week, Mnuchin said that the administration thinks that the names and dollar amounts of specific PPP loans is "proprietary information."

Those comments angered Democrats, who argued that it’s important for the PPP to be transparent in order to ensure that the program is not being abused. 

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda has more here.


Fed launches emergency business lending program: The Federal Reserve on Monday opened its direct lending program for businesses derailed by the coronavirus pandemic that are too large to qualify for other federal relief programs.

The Fed launched registration for its Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) on Monday through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, allowing banks and other lenders to sign up and begin disbursing a crucial tool in the central bank’s emergency lending efforts.

  • The MSLP is designed to prop up businesses that were strong and stable before the pandemic shut down wide swaths of the U.S. economy by providing emergency loans issued through banks that are held by the Fed. 
  • Under the MSLP, a business with up to 15,000 employees or 2019 revenue no greater than $5 billion can apply for a loan to be repaid in five years. The loans will be originated through banks, but the Fed will purchase 95 percent of the total loan amount to drastically reduce the risks for and constraints on lenders.

The Main Street program will likely be one of the most heavily scrutinized Fed lending efforts given its size, scope and importance to the recovery of the U.S. economy. I explain here.