A national paycheck guarantee?
Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:
A national paycheck guarantee
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are trying to build momentum for the next congressional stimulus package to include paycheck guarantees, said Catie Edmondson at The New York Times. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are "making the case to their parties' leaders that guaranteed income programs" should be on the table. While the first round of stimulus programs expanded unemployment insurance, the new plans would provide grants to employers to cover pay for furloughed workers. Jayapal's plan would have the government "cover salaries and benefits for workers making up to $90,000 for as long as six months." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been "lukewarm on the idea," and most Republicans hate it. But Hawley has been gaining support for his "proposal mirroring the British government's plan that covers 80 percent of employers' payroll costs up to the median wage, $49,000 per year."
SBA will trust most small applicants
Businesses that borrow less than $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program can rest a little easier, said Ryan Tracy at The Wall Street Journal. After the Trump administration signaled that "there might be consequences" for large businesses that had received forgivable loans they didn't need, some smaller business owners were "nervous about whether they could meet" the Small Business Administration's certification requirements for forgiveness. But with fewer firms applying for loans now, the SBA said last week that it will "trust" that smaller requests were made "in good faith." At the same time, lawmakers and prosecutors are ramping up their scrutiny of PPP, after the SBA inspector general warned that "the pressure to rapidly disburse relief funds could increase the chance for fraud."
The 'ebitdac' profit fiction
Some companies are tweaking their earnings reports to include profits they would have made without the pandemic, said Nikou Asgari at the Financial Times. Many corporations have long reported "ebitda" — earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization. Now they are adding "coronavirus." A Chicago-based manufacturer, Azek, raised $325 million of junk bonds and "included a term that would allow it to add back 'lost earnings' as a result of COVID in the future." Don't be fooled by the rosy "ebitdac" figures, said one adviser. "These revenues will never come back," she said. "It's fiction."
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