The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed nearly every facet of American day-to-day life to where most citizens do not see our daily routines ever returning to what we once considered “normal.” When we say every facet, we mean every facet. Mental, physical, familial, financial, personal, and professional. A lot of the effects we’ve felt from the pandemic have been less than savory, but this pandemic is also changing some things for the better. Below are just a few life lessons many Americans have learned from this pandemic (so far) regarding banking and finances.
Big bankruptcies have been trickling in this year as the US continues to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these companies filing for bankruptcy have been, unsurprisingly, airline and travel companies, and now we are seeing more and more big names like J. Crew and J.C. Penney added the list. “In May alone, some 27 companies reporting at least $50 million in liabilities sought court protection from creditors -- the highest number since the Great Recession,” reports Bloomberg.
The largest banks in the United States have recently reported exceptional growth in the past months. The ten largest U.S. banks grew in asset size by more than $1.2 trillion in Q1 of 2020. 20 percent of this growth alone ($273 billion in new deposits) came from JPMorgan, placing it as the first bank in the U.S. with $3 trillion in assets.1
Many organizations have feared a work-from-home model for years, worrying about the risks that come with more distractions, less accountability, and less productivity for employees, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many organizations to adopt work-from-home procedures despite their apprehension. However, many have found their fears put at ease—this actually works. Not only do employees have more free time, lending way to better quality of life, and get to work in sweatpants, but they’re doing it with just as much, if not more, productivity. Many predict that working from home is here to stay.
It has been several days since the second round of PPP loan processing began. Bankers were hoping for a smoother ride this go-around, but many of the same problems that plagued the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program are still on the scene in round two.
The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index has dropped by 30 percent since February, from 101 down to 71.8—the lowest it’s been since December 2011. Unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression, and many families and businesses are already unable to pay their rent or mortgage among other expenses. Many citizens and experts have expressed fear that America might experience another depression. “We have never seen anything like this," says Princeton University professor and economist Alan Blinder regarding the recent number of unemployment claims. “This looks likely to be deep enough to qualify as a depression."
On Monday (April 20th) oil prices reached below zero for the first time ever at negative $37 a barrel, meaning traders were paying money to get people to take oil for the month of May. A recent article from NPR says, “It’s a sign of just how imbalanced the global oil markets are.”
Just thirteen days after its launch, the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program fund (part of the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package) had exhausted all funds. There have been talks of more funding coming, but this has left questions circulating like: Are more funds coming? How much more? When?
There are two legitimate concerns when thinking about reopening the country: the physical health and well-being of citizens and the economic health and well-being of citizens. President Trump’s initial hope to see the country reopened by Easter was met with a lot of backlash from healthcare professionals and economists that said it was too soon and would wind up doing more harm than good. While obviously that date has come and gone with no uplifting of shelter-in-place and other social distancing orders, the push to reopen sooner than later is not unfounded. Yesterday, the president announced the ‘Opening Up America Again’ plan aiming for May 1st.
Coronavirus relief stimulus checks have begun dispersing, and word has been circulating about giving out even more. These cash payments are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act totaling $2,000,000,000,000.00. The act is broken down for multiple moving parts of this pandemic: stimulus checks, extra unemployment, loans for corporations and small businesses, health care, etc. However, this $2 trillion number has still left many reeling, wondering where this money is coming from or if this will cause inflation.