Thursday, 25 February, 2021


US Treasury Sec. Mnuchin: We have plenty of firepower left

Mnuchin Asks Fed to Return $455 Billion in Unspent Covid-Relief Funds Biden to announce treasury secretary choice 'soon'
Melba Vasquez | 20 November, 2020, 23:43

A senior Democratic aide told Reuters there had been a mid-afternoon meeting on Thursday among congressional aides that discussed coronavirus relief and efforts to pass a $1.4 trillion bill to keep government agencies operating beyond December 11 when current funding expires.

"The Fed has been one of the only sources of stability in Washington and removing its latitude to offer support in a shaky recovery is simply nonsensical", said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at Washington-based Compass Point Research & Trading. "As such, I am requesting that the Federal Reserve return the unused funds to the Treasury".

Some of these were backed by funds from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act authorized by Congress, including programs targeted at the corporate credit market, municipal lending and small and medium-enterprises through the Main Street Lending Program. It is unclear whether this move will increase pressure on Congress to provide more economic relief. "A surprise termination of the Federal Reserve's emergency liquidity program, including the Main Street Lending Program, prematurely and unnecessarily ties the hands of the incoming administration and closes the door on important liquidity options for businesses at a time when they need them most", said Neil Bradley, the chamber's executive vice-president, in a prepared statement.

"The Fed will be strongly committed to using all of our tools to support the economy for as long as it takes until the job is well and truly done", he said.

These are the programs Mnuchin said would not be extended after the end of the year, and requested that the Fed return $455 billion in unused funds allocated for them.

However, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said in a statement that he approved of Mnuchin's decision.

People are missing the issue in criticizing their decision on the Federal Reserve's lending facilities, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Friday, as reported by Reuters.

"These facilities ... have successfully achieved their intended goal", he said.

But Democrats have urged the opposite, calling on the central bank to make the loan terms more generous as the darkening financial outlook for many companies and municipalities heightens the risk that even more Americans will be put out of work. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who now sits on an oversight panel for these emergency programs.

"Luckily, whatever the Trump Treasury does, the Biden Administration has the authority to ask the Fed to restart these lending programs next year", he added.

Mnuchin wrote that these Fed programs supported by the Treasury have "clearly achieved their objective", adding that markets have responded positively and banks have been able to continue lending.

Investor sentiment was also affected by data that showed COVID-19 hospitalisations across the United States jumped by almost 50% in the last two weeks, threatening the recovery of the world's largest economy as cities and states began to impose lockdowns.

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