When will we get back to normal?
Fortune 500 CEOs say it might not be until 2022.
Increasingly, health experts believe it could take years before a cure emerges. The World Health Organization recently warned that it could take up to 5 years before things go back to “normal.”
Business leaders are also taking on the view that the pandemic will last longer than previously thought. About 38% of Fortune 500 leaders surveyed between late April and early May think their employees will return to work by June 2021. Some 58% believe economic activity won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until the first quarter of 2022. Another majority, 52.4%, think employees will never travel as much again.
The bottom line—folks are settling into a new world order.
Oh, by the way—Jerome Powell is getting love in the pandemic. Some 84% of CEOs think the Fed chair has done a great job of handling the crisis, compared to 22.9% who say the same of President Donald Trump. Read more.
PPP problems: Got a loan via the Payments Protection Program that’s below $2 million? You can keep the money. Probably.
The SBA gave companies until May 14 to return Paycheck Protection Program funding if they didn’t need it, amid news reports of well-capitalized companies such as Shake Shack and Potbelly receiving funds.
But who should actually return the funding? On Wednesday, a day before the deadline, the SBA updated guidance around what companies would be scrutinized for taking PPP funding, saying that businesses receiving less than $2 million of the forgivable loan will automatically clear the hurdle.
“SBA has determined that this safe harbor is appropriate because borrowers with loans below this threshold are generally less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment,” the guidance read, noting that further clarification is coming.
Indeed more nuance is needed—the SBA previously said that publicly traded companies would likely be ineligible for forgiveness, though many have acquired loans below the $2 million threshold, per analysis by FactSquared. And across the 407 PPP loans sought by public companies, just 61 have been returned, based on public filings.
That said, it’s not a total free for all. While the SBA may gloss over companies with loans lower than $2 million, the Department of Justice can make its own calls on which cases to pursue. Earlier this month, the DoJ charged two New England businessmen with fraudulently seeking $438,000 from the program. But undoubtedly, regulators will use the biggest and flashiest of loans to set an example.