The 4 Stimulus Bills Saving America From Its Biggest Depression Ever
The U.S. economy was on the brink of collapse, then the Federal Government threw a life vest at the economy
The novel coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy in early 2020.
It brought economic activity to a screeching halt. It caused unemployment levels to surge from record-lows (3.5%) to record-highs (14.7%). And it sparked a record-fast 30% selloff in U.S. stocks.
For all intents and purposes, in March, it looked like the U.S. economy was doomed to fall into its biggest depression … ever. Many thought it would be bigger than even the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Then the U.S. government threw a kitchen sink at the economy, in the form of multiple huge stimulus bills.
“The Federal Government has a substantial amount of stimulus that is currently planned or in progress to ease the potential economic consequences of the COVID-19 event,” Marc Moffitt, Adjunct Professor of Real Estate at the University of North Texas, told InvestorPlace in an email.
That’s exactly what has happened.
Thanks to huge stimulus bills, the U.S. economy is starting to stabilize (and even recover some), while U.S. stocks have rebounded by nearly 40% in just two months.
So what exactly are these four stimulus bills that are saving the U.S. economy from the brink of collapse?
Let’s take a closer look.
The Public Health Bill
What It is:
The first of the U.S. government’s Covid-19 stimulus bills is formally named the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.
Signed into law in early March, this stimulus bill was all about providing emergency funding to help assist the U.S. public health response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, the bill comprised $8.3 billion in additional funding for various organizations engaged in the public health fight with Covid-19, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), among others.
The bill also included $4 billion to make coronavirus testing kits more widely available, and $1 billion in small business loans.
How It Helped:
This “public health” stimulus bill helped America fight the pandemic on the front lines. Additional funding helped scale testing capacity, advance vaccine research and increase available equipment at hospitals.
The Targeted Relief Bill
What It is:
Only days after the U.S. government passed the first of its many Covid-19 stimulus bills, the government passed a second Covid-19 stimulus bill. This one was all about providing targeted relief for directly impacted individuals and corporations.
Specifically, on March 10, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law.
Among other things, this stimulus bill provided free coronavirus testing for the uninsured, two weeks of paid sick and family leave for employees who had to self-quarantine or seek treatment due to Covid-19, employer tax credits for that sick leave, increased federal funds for Medicaid and food security programs, and boosted unemployment insurance benefits.
How It Helped:
Broadly, the bill provided immediate economic relief for those individuals and corporations directly impacted by Covid-19, including those individuals who had exposure to the virus and/or were let go because of the economic fallout from the virus. In so doing, it provided immediate economic protection to those who needed it most.
The Big One
What It is:
In late March, the U.S. government passed the big stimulus bill — a $2.2 trillion rescue packaged dubbed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
When people talk about “the stimulus bill,” the CARES Act is the one they are talking about. Among other things, the CARES Act:
- Mailed out $1,200 checks to qualifying Americans.
- Expanded unemployment benefits to the tune of an additional $600 per week per person for the next four months.
- Created a $377 billion small business loan program.
- Established a $500 billion lending fund for distressed businesses.
- Provided nearly $340 billion in additional funding for hospitals and various other federal agencies on the front-lines of the Covid-19 fight (essentially, an extension of the first bill).
The CARES Act is the largest stimulus package in American history. By a long shot. It is more than double the size of the $800 billion stimulus bill the U.S. passed to recover from the Great Financial Crisis of 2008/09.
As if $2.2 trillion wasn’t enough, President Trump signed into law another relief bill in late April which extended the CARES Act to provide an additional nearly $500 billion in funding for small businesses.
How It Helped:
The CARES Act gave America a life jacket to weather the coronavirus storm.
It gave individuals extra money to help them pay the bills amid widespread job loss. It gave corporations a lifeline to avoid insolvency amid business closures. And it further extended aid to the front-lines battle which, at the time, was escalating quickly.
The Bigger One
What It is:
Many consider phase four of the Federal Government’s stimulus plan to be the April extension of the CARES Act. But that was just an extension of an existing package.
The real fourth stimulus bill that the Federal Government may pass to fight Covid-19 is the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act.
The HEROES Act, which has yet to be formally signed into law, is bigger than the CARES Act. It’s a $3 trillion package that includes:
- Another round of $1,200 stimulus payments to households.
- Extension of the $600 bonus unemployment benefits to January 2021.
- Extension of a pause in interest payments on student loans until September 2021.
- Student loan forgiveness of up to $10,000.
- An additional $100 billion in rental assistance.
- A $13 per hour boost to the salaries of essential workers.
- And much, much more.
How It Could Help:
The fight against Covid-19 could drag on for months. While America is gradually reopening its economy, it is unlikely that things go 100% back to normal (and that everyone gets their job back) until after a vaccine is released — which won’t be until late 2020, at the earliest.
Assuming so, the U.S. economy will need more help than the $2 trillion offered in the CARES Act. The HEROES Act could help America bridge the gap between now and when a vaccine arrives. In that sense, it could help America’s economic revitalization efforts dramatically over the next few months.
Luke Lango is a Markets Analyst for InvestorPlace. He has been professionally analyzing stocks for several years, previously working at various hedge funds and currently running his own investment fund in San Diego. A Caltech graduate, Luke has consistently been recognized as one of the world’s top stock pickers by various other analysts and platforms, and has developed a reputation for leveraging his technology background to identify growth stocks that deliver outstanding returns. Luke is also the founder of Fantastic, a social discovery company backed by an LA-based internet venture firm. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.