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Wall St. Execs promise Trump to help consumers as economy weakens due to coronavirus impact

US PResident Donald Trump delivers remarks to the news media during a meeting with bankers on coronavirus response.

WASHINGTON, DC- In a meeting with Donald Trump overtaking immediate steps to curb the further spread of coronavirus in the United States, Wall Street executives on Wednesday (local time) promised the President to help consumers as the American economy continues to weaken and businesses affected by the outbreak of the viral infection.

“All of us are providing relief to any customer that has an issue of being out of work for the virus,” Brian Moynihan, the chief executive of Bank of America, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.

“We’re here to help small businesses, medium-sized businesses, the core American economy run, and to help our consumer clients really weather the storm in case they’re directly affected by this,” Moynihan added.

The coronavirus has killed dozens of US citizens and infected more than 1,200 Americans.

The World Health Organization has also officially announced the viral infection to be a global pandemic. There are 118,000 cases, more than 4,000 deaths, the agency said, and the virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica.

“Wells Fargo is developing a program to help companies and their employees affected by the spread of the virus, including issues with “their fees, payments,” said the bank’s chief executive, Charles Scharf.

JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, has lent $26 billion to consumers and small businesses over the past 40 days, said Gordon Smith, the bank’s chief operating officer. The bank will “waive fees for consumers and small businesses who are under stress,” he said.

The meeting occurred as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 20 percent from its record highs, ending a record 11-year stock rally.

“We’re having to fix a problem that, four weeks ago, nobody ever thought would be a problem,” said Trump, who was surrounded by the bank executives and members of his administration, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Trump administration is struggling to respond to the growing economic fallout from the spread of the novel coronavirus. Thirty-five Americans have died of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, and about 1,000 people have tested positive for the pathogen. Many companies and government agencies have ordered employees to work from home, and some cities are banning large gatherings to help stem the virus’s spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began screening passengers from Wuhan, China, at three US airports seven weeks ago and declared a public health emergency nearly six weeks ago.

However, hospital industry leaders are urging the Trump administration to declare the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency or a national disaster.

Following the executive meeting, the Trump administration also imposed a temporary ban on foreign nationals arriving from 26 European countries with open borders agreements since the last 14 days, apart from the United Kingdom.

Several of the bankers sought to assure the public that the industry was fully capitalised, unlike a decade ago during the 2008 global financial crisis when Wall Street received billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.

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