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US President Donald Trump takes questions as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence look on during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House in Washington (Photo: Reuters)
US President Donald Trump takes questions as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence look on during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House in Washington (Photo: Reuters)

White House wants to keep financial markets open, may shorten hours: Mnuchin

  • US Treasury Secretary says Trump wants to send cheques to Americans 'in next two weeks' in effort to curb economic cost of virus outbreak
  • Situation for airlines worse than after 9/11 attacks because airlines have almost ground to a halt, says Mnuchin

President Donald Trump wants the government to send cheques to Americans in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic cost of the coronavirus outbreak, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday.

“The president has instructed me we have to do this now," he said at the White House briefing. He didn't give details except to say the amount should be significant and millionaires would not get it.

The White House on Tuesday was asking Congress to approve a massive emergency rescue package to help businesses as well as taxpayers cope with the economic crisis that is paired with the pandemic.

Mnuchin planned to outline that roughly $850 billion package to Senate Republicans at a private lunch, with officials aiming to have Congress approve it this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opening the Senate on Tuesday morning, promised swift action.

Mnuchin also said that the federal government intends to keep financial markets open, shorter hours may be necessary.

Mnuchin is working with lawmakers on a "big, bold coronavirus package", said Trump, adding that Mnuchin is meeting with senators on Tuesday on additional stimulus measures.

"Situation for airlines worse than after 9/11 attacks because airlines have almost ground to a halt," said Mnuchin. He further said Americans can defer up to $1 million in payments to IRS as Trump authorized deferral of $300 billion in IRS payments.

'Government want to make sure fast-food drive-thrus stay open," the Treasure Secretary said.

Corporations can defer tax payments of up to $10 million.

The US Treasury Department said on Tuesday it has approved a new Federal Reserve commercial paper funding facility to help American businesses manage their short-term liquidity through the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that $10 billion of capital from Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund was being invested in the new backstop facility. A similar facility to buy short-term corporate debt was activated during the global financial crisis in 2008.

The new facility, administered by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will purchase commercial paper that is highly rated by nationally recognized rating organizations, Mnuchin said. It will charge rates and fees to eligible issuers based on collateral arrangements and other acceptable guarantees.

The commercial paper market is a key source of short-term funding for a range of businesses, but liquidity has dried up in recent weeks.

The announcement by the Treasury and Fed caused stocks to reverse early losses and trade higher, with the S&P 500 index up about 2.5% after plunging 12% on Monday in its biggest percentage drop since the 1987 "Black Monday" rout.


This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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