News Roundups

PPP data errors raise questions, Dunford bows out of search for virus chair, and more

Daily news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from July 15, 2020.

Daily news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from July 15, 2020.

PPP Data Errors Raise Questions About Relief Effectiveness

Herb Miller was baffled when he learned that the Trump administration reported that his one-man business in Hixson, Tennessee, was approved for a coronavirus relief loan of as much as $5 million. The amount was $3,700, he said.

“Something is screwed up there,” said Miller, who has been an accountant for almost five decades. “I’m going to have to get this straightened out.”

A Bloomberg News analysis shows that the data for Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling more than $521 billion released on July 6 are riddled with anomalies.

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Dunford Bows Out of Search for Virus Oversight Chair, Leaving it Leaderless

General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the top choice of congressional leaders to chair a bipartisan coronavirus oversight commission, has taken himself out of the running for the post, the latest setback in Congress’s efforts to keep tabs on the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal pandemic aid.

The commission has been leaderless since its creation in April, as Republicans and Democrats have failed to agree on a chairman. In recent weeks, General Dunford, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had emerged as the clear favorite of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, to lead the panel, and was going through the final stages of vetting for the job.

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Bernanke, Yellen to testify on federal response to coronavirus recession

Former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen will testify before lawmakers on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus-driven economic downturn, a House subcommittee announced Tuesday.

Bernanke and Yellen will share their views about the unprecedented federal efforts to stabilize and protect the economy during a remote hearing held Friday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s special subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic.

The hearing will be the first appearances before a congressional committee for each of the former Fed chiefs since leaving the central bank, according to the panel. 

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5 takeaways from Brouillette's Hill appearance

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette largely dodged controversy yesterday in his first appearance on Capitol Hill since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged energy sector jobs.

Brouillette offered insight into high-profile issues at the Department of Energy as the agency looks to enact a host of Trump administration priorities.

Here are some takeaways from Brouillette's testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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SBA grant program attracting the wrong kind of attention

An apartment building in Chicago, one of the most densely populated cities in America, is not an obvious place to raise crops. But a surprising number of apartment dwellers claim to be doing just that as they try to take advantage of a federal aid program intended to help small businesses survive the pandemic.

The Small Business Administration in recent weeks has been inundated with calls from people claiming to run odd businesses in odd places, all attracted by the prospect of a quick $10,000 advance on a government loan, according to a person with direct knowledge of the program who asked not to be identified discussing confidential matters.

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Should Banks Be Forced to Price In Climate Change?

Since the 2008 financial crisis, regulators each year have required big banks to prove they could keep lending through new calamities. The rules, so far, have focused on purely economic disasters: Do they have enough capital to keep their doors open when markets collapse, or if unemployment explodes?

But there’s another kind of risk that didn’t burst onto the radar during that crisis but could trigger just as much of an economic disaster: climate change.

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The world’s botched Covid-19 green recovery, in charts

With governments spending trillions of dollars to prop up the global economy, they could have grabbed the opportunity to accelerate the transition to clean energy. Countries could have prioritized stimulus funding for, say, energy efficient building retrofits over coal-fired power plants.

But so far, like after the 2008 financial crisis, recovery packages have significantly favored fossil fuels. Across the G20 countries, for every dollar of stimulus funding committed to clean energy, $1.50 goes to airlines, oil companies, and other fossil fuel-reliant industries, according to a new dataset of stimulus measures compiled by more than a dozen climate research outfits.

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Fossil fuels win big as nations dole out recovery funds

International spending on COVID-19 economic recovery overwhelmingly favors fossil fuels over cleaner forms of energy, according to a coalition of research institutes and nonprofits.

Data compiled by 14 organizations follows a complaint last week by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who blasted governments for continuing support for fossil energy sources in the face of global warming instead of investing those billions of dollars in a low-carbon energy transition.

"Twice as much recovery money, taxpayers' money, has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy," Guterres said.

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