Coronavirus

Trump Gathers Bank Leaders To Take Temperature On Coronavirus

Trump has asked top banking officials to meet at the White House.

U.S. President Donald Trump has asked top bankers to attend a meeting regarding the coronavirus outbreak, as leaders worldwide try to assess the damage to the economy wrought by the virus, according to the Financial Times (FT).

The White House did not say who specifically would be coming, but the FT reported that people familiar with the situation have knowledge that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf, and Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat will be among the attendees, along with JPMorgan Co-President Gordon Smith, currently sitting in for CEO Jamie Dimon as he recovers from heart surgery.

Those involved with the meeting said they hadn’t yet seen an agenda. One source said the banks wouldn’t be asking for help with anything. Instead, according to the FT, the focus would be on what the banks could do to help.

U.S. financial stocks posted their worst day since 2009’s Lehman Brothers collapse on Monday, with declining oil prices leading to fears of a global economic slump because of the virus’s spider-web of effects.

The four biggest U.S. banks each saw a 12 to 16 percent drop, and $120 billion in stock market value was wiped out. Europe saw banks with large exposures to energy take massive hits to stock market values.

U.S. banks have been attempting to stave off the effects. Citi pledged to waive fees for individuals and small businesses affected by the coronavirus. Goldman Sachs’ consumer lending platform Marcus is preparing a hurricane relief-style program for those affected, which will involve a one-month, interest-free deferment, said a person familiar with the situation.

In Italy, where the virus has caused mass lockdowns on travel to contain the spread, the government is suspending mortgage payments and other debt repayments across the country for the entirety of the virus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the White House has considered its own actions, such as tax deferments for industries particularly affected by the virus. Those would include airline, travel and cruise businesses.

U.S. Congress representatives, including Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have met with White House officials to discuss measures as well, Reuters reported. Pelosi said whatever action is taken should not come in the form of “trickle-down” measures that only help a few. The White House has been accused by Democrats and opponents of caring more about Wall Street and being ill-prepared to take on the virus.

Some of the proposed ideas included $300 billion to go toward payroll tax relief to help people make rent and mortgage payments or pay medical bills if hours are reduced due to the virus.

Any measure to counter the virus would have to pass the Democratic-controlled House as well as the Republican-controlled Senate before reaching Trump’s desk.

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