Stimulus package approved, bank exams reduced

The White House and the senate reached an agreement on a coronavirus stimulus package on March 25, which aims to keep the nation from falling into a recession due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The proposal will inject roughly $2 trillion into the economy, providing tax rebates, four months of expanded unemployment benefits, among other business tax-relief provisions to protect family and business finances. 

The deal includes $500 billion for a corporate liquidity program through the Fed, $367 billion for a small business loan program, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments. Tax-paying Americans who earn up to $75,000 will receive a one-time check of $1,200. 

The Federal Reserve announced March 24 that it will temporarily reduce its bank examination activities as it focuses on the immediate challenges posed by the coronavirus. 

All regular examination activity for banks with less than $100 billion in assets will be suspended until the end of April at the earliest, according to a statement, “except where the examination work is critical to safety and soundness or consumer protection, or is required to address an urgent or immediate need.”

For institutions with more than $100 in assets, the Fed will defer “a significant portion” of planned examination activity. Firms required to submit plans under the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review exercise, however, are still required to submit their capital plans by April 6.

Banks also have an additional 90 days to remediate existing supervisory findings, except under specific circumstances in which speedy remediation would help the firm address heightened risks, or help customers. The Fed also reminded banks of previous guidance that said banks that work constructively with borrowers facing challenges due to the virus will not be subject to regulatory criticism.

During this period of uncertainty, bank supervisors are directed to increase their focus on monitoring bank activity –– specifically bank operations, capital, liquidity, asset quality and the effects of the virus on consumers. For large banks, supervisors will also monitor operational resiliency and the risks to overall financial stability, according to the Fed.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s wage and hourly division released its first round of guidance on how the Families First Coronavirus Response act can be used to relieve and protect employees and employers. 

The law, which will take effect April 1, offers U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide their staff with paid leave for their own health needs or to care for families. 

The guidance addresses how an employer must count the number of the business’s employees to determine coverage, how small businesses can obtain an exemption, how to count hours for part-time employees, and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.

The guidance is provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document.

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