While all of the initial U.S. stimulus packages, including the fourth one that was near the finish line Monday, have included “excellent support that we need” to get through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the most urgent needs we have right now to help restart the economy are more testing and protective gear, according to Jeremy Siegel, professor of finance at Wharton and WisdomTree senior investment strategy advisor.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he expected the fourth stimulus package would include $300 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing.
“I haven’t dug into the details of every one of those” proposals for the new package, Siegel said Monday after ThinkAdvisor asked him about it during his weekly conference call on the state of the markets.
However, testing and protective gear are the most important things we need “because if we’re going to get people back to work,” that is what’s required, he said.
“It is unfortunate” that the first $349 billion of PPP loans “got exhausted” so quickly, he said earlier on the call, noting that many businesses would have been better off going to small community banks than the large ones that “were kind of overwhelmed.”
There have been “little glitches” in PPP for businesses hurt by the pandemic that were “unfortunate,” he said, conceding there were “some abuses” of the program.
However, Siegel said he was “impressed how much” the U.S. government “got right’ with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included the initial $349 billion for PPP.