A rousing rally in Asia following Wall Street’s blockbuster Tuesday gains spilled over into Europe briefly, but by dawn stateside, the good vibes had faded a bit.
Investors doubt the durability of any bounce even as the White House and Congress have agreed on a stimulus package which some hope will be enough to power US stocks to a second straight day of gains for the first time since early last month.
The stimulus deal – which Mitch McConnell said will be passed on Wednesday – is worth in excess of $2 trillion, and includes the $500 billion fund for guaranteeing loans to companies, including $50 billion for the beleaguered airline industry as well as money for states and localities. $350 billion in aid is included for small businesses. Hospitals and healthcare providers will get $150 billion.
$1,200 checks (plus $500 per child) will go out to lower- and middle-income Americans, while unemployment insurance will be extended and expanded. Workers will get $600 a week for four months, on top of what they would have received under state unemployment programs.
The deal is easily the largest stimulus package ever enacted, more than doubling the $800 billion response to the GFC. “At last, we have a deal”, McConnell said. “In effect, this is a wartime level of investment into our nation”.
Asian equities have risen some 11% in two days, and Wednesday witnessed gains across almost all countries in the region.
Still, it appears as just a blip on the proverbial radar screen after a $7.6 trillion wipeout in Asian shares spanning nearly two months.
It’s worth noting that earnings estimates in Asia have only come down by about 1/4 the decline seen during the GFC, potentially suggesting market participants are still reluctant to price in what’s likely to be the reality of the financial blow from the virus.
On the Hill, Democrats largely won the battle over transparency and mandating that US companies which receive loans are banned from stock buybacks for the entire term of the loan plus a year after that. Executive bonuses will be limited and stipulations are in place that any company taking taxpayer bailout money will make every effort to protect workers.
In another win for Democrats, Steve Mnuchin will be compelled to disclose loan terms and the program will be overseen by a new inspector general.
“We got better oversight”, Joe Manchin said. “The oversight basically says that you can’t just exempt everybody and give all your corporate executives, based on the backs of the taxpayers [a] free carnival”.
Businesses owned by Trump or his family members are banned from the program, as are entities own by lawmakers. Mike Pence is subject to the same ban, although I’m not sure “Pence Hotels” is a thing.
“This is not a moment of celebration, but one of necessity”, Chuck Schumer remarked. “To all Americans I say, ‘Help is on the way'”.
“Will the more positive risk sentiment prevail? I’m skeptical, mainly because of the coronavirus situation in New York, where Governor Cuomo warned of ‘astronomical numbers'”, Axicorp’s Stephen Innes said Wednesday. “If $2 trillion can’t get the market above 2500 on the S&P 500 even on a knee jerk bounce, it’s going to be a long and bumpy road both in terms of virus health scares and the torrent of lousy economics to go before we see any real improvement, I’m afraid”.
Assuming no poison pills, Nancy Pelosi said the House can pass the Senate version with a voice vote, meaning House members aren’t required to actually show up in the nation’s capital, where multiple lawmakers have tested positive for the virus.
“You know, I wouldn’t say there were any thorny, any particular thorny issues. This is a very complicated piece of legislation. It’s a very large investment in the US economy”, Steve Mnuchin told the press. “[I] couldn’t be more pleased”.
Larry Kudlow is lumping this package in with assumed Fed measures to conjure a $6 trillion figure for the size of total virus-related stimulus to the US economy. Happily, that lets the administration boast of aid worth 10% of GDP.
“Now, there is nothing against giving people some hope in these dark moments, but such comments obviously sent shivers down the spines of the virus experts. Is Trump being the cautious optimist, or careless?”, Rabobank asked Wednesday, of Trump’s suggestion that churches across the US are going to be “packed” on Easter Sunday.
“State and local level policy makers are coping with the reality of acceleration numbers of people infected and the immediate consequences of mass (temporary) layoffs and this is where the importance of the $2 trillion bill comes in”, the bank added.
Asked if Trump will sign the stimulus bill, Mnuchin said “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely”.