Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Paycheck Protection Program no longer seems likely to run out of funds, as daily loan approvals have slowed to less than $2 billion per day.

What happened: Politicians and pundits, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, moved the goalposts. It no longer matters if you can qualify for such a loan, per the original rules. It only matters if the loan is worth enduring media floggings and government threats — all without promised clarity into loan forgiveness.

By the numbers: The SBA reports that $188 billion of the refreshed $311 billion pot was spoken for as of last night, representing loans to 1.2 million small businesses. The average loan size between PPP and PPP2 has fallen from $206,000 to $73,000.

SBA has implemented the program as intended. That's the top-line finding of an Inspector General report released Friday, which had been requested by congressional Democrats.

  • The IG did identify some areas for SBA to improve, including having lenders prioritize underserved and rural markets. But, again, overall it felt SBA was meeting its mandate.

Criticism of larger loan recipients has been bipartisan, with Mnuchin going so far as to threaten investigations and criminal investigations.

  • The common denominator has been frustration that smaller businesses without established banking relationships were shut out of the original PPP, and that it could happen again.
  • That’s why Mnuchin said all would be forgiven if larger recipients just poured their money back into the pool.

The bottom line: Moral suasion worked, judging by the current loan pace. But if PPP 2 ends up with plenty of cash in the till, and unemployment keeps growing, there could be boomerang questions about why some businesses were discouraged from applying for loans that could have kept people on payrolls.

Go deeper ... Mnuchin: White House will decide on more coronavirus relief in "a few weeks

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Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Aug 14, 2020 - Economy & Business

How small businesses got stiffed by the coronavirus pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The story of American businesses in the coronavirus pandemic is a tale of two markets — one made up of tech firms and online retailers as winners awash in capital, and another of brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop shops that is collapsing.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has created an environment where losing industries like traditional retail and hospitality as well as a sizable portion of firms owned by women, immigrants and people of color are wiped out and may be gone for good.

Aug 18, 2020 - World

CDC lifts travel warning as Bermuda ramps up testing to suppress coronavirus

A view of Coral Beach, Bermuda. Photo: Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The CDC has lifted its coronavirus warning against nonessential travel to Bermuda, as the island ramps up a scheme to attract foreign workers on year-long residencies and marks 57 days with no detected community spread.

Driving the news: Over half of the British Overseas Territory's population has been tested for COVID-19 since on-island capabilities were set up on March 17. Premier David Burt told Axios the strict testing has left him "confident that we are going to be able to catch any clusters before they spread."

Aug 19, 2020 - Health

People of color struggle to afford health care

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People of color disproportionately lack stable health insurance and have more trouble affording health care than white Americans, a new survey from the Commonwealth Fund shows.

Why it matters: This is one of the long-standing inequalities the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated.