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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Federal regulators still haven't provided the required guidance on Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness, a scant 18 days past deadline, but it's become less important for the vast majority of small business recipients.

Driving the news: The key buzzword this week was "safe harbor."

  • The Small Business Administration said it would provide safe harbor to all PPP borrowers of less than $2 million, in terms of deeming their certifications to have been made in good faith.
  • In other words, no more need to sweat over whether or not their applications met the "necessity" criteria.

It also extended the "safe harbor" for no-questions-asked loan returns to May 18. This is basically for borrowers of above $2 million, or smaller borrowers who have concerns about their applications other than the aforementioned "necessity" criteria.

  • An SBA spokesperson tells Axios that companies that returned PPP loans are allowed to reapply, so long as they no longer have an active E-Tran loan number.

But back to that lack of forgiveness guidance: It's still a real problem. Not just for larger borrowers, but even for smaller ones that have larger operational expenses than employee expenses.

  • A recent Inspector General report noted that "tens of thousands of borrowers" won't meet the SBA requirement that 75% of PPP loans be used on payroll.
  • Some suggest that this could be why so many small businesses, upwards of 25%, never even bothered applying for PPP.
  • There's speculation that the 75% floor could be lowered in forgiveness guidance, given that it doesn't appear in the actual CARES Act. But at this point it's hard to really know. As one banker said to me: "If you don't like the PPP rules today, don't worry about it because they'll change again tomorrow."

The bottom line: Flexibility for PPP borrowers has increased, particularly as social media attention and political criticism has waned.

Go deeper: Swing states hit as the coronavirus rips small business

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Aug 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

Household debt and credit delinquencies dropped during Q2

Reproduced from New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans cut back on credit cards and increased savings during the worst three-month economic period in U.S. history, as household debt fell for the first time in six years, data from the New York Fed showed.

By the numbers: Total debt declined 0.2% to $14.27 trillion in the second quarter, led by a $76 billion drop in outstanding credit-card balances.

Updated 50 mins ago - Health

Massage, facial, pedicure... intravenous drip?

A salon on the Upper East Side of New York that offers IV drip therapies. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

IV drips — the kind you might get if you're rushed to the hospital — are trending as a spa treatment, thanks in part to endorsements by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Madonna.

Why it matters: Like other "wellness" trends with a whiff of medical imprimatur, IV nutrient drips can be harmless or mildly restorative — or go awry, particularly in the wrong hands.

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.