Fed chief: New surge in cases is beginning to weigh on the economy

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/29/powell-fed-economy/?utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2CvBwHTLxHdQVT0I2uItlkVA9TMiJQpxdEyT2wucJ-3r1J3isD2U8y6Ic

US Central Bank Chief Says Surge In Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases ...

The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates unchanged at close to zero, but the Fed is also extending programs to buy Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

The head of the Federal Reserve said Wednesday that rising numbers of coronavirus cases since mid-June are beginning to weigh on the economy, reinforcing that the fate of the recovery depends on containing the pandemic.

“On balance, it looks like the data are pointing to a slowing in the pace of the recovery,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said during a news conference on Wednesday. “I want to stress it’s too early to say both how large that is and how sustained it will be.”

Job gains from May and June came “sooner and stronger” than expected, Powell said. But those encouraging signs were closely followed by a surge in coronavirus cases nationwide. Powell said that at the same time people’s lives depend on containing the public health crisis, it is also important to “deal with the economic ramifications.”

Powell said some measures of consumer spending, based on debit card and credit card use, have moved down since late June. Powell also mentioned recent labor market indicators that are pointing to slower job growth, especially for smaller businesses. Hotel occupancy rates have flattened out, Powell said, while Americans are not going to restaurants, gas stations and beauty salons as much as they had been earlier in the summer.

Powell said the upcoming jobs reports and other surveys will help flesh out the Fed’s economic outlook, cautioning that he did not “want to get ahead of where the data are on this.” But as he has for months, Powell again emphasized that the economy’s recovery depends on the country’s ability to stop the virus from spreading.

“The path of the economy is going to depend, to a very high extent, on the course of the virus and on the measures we take to keep it in check,” Powell said. “The two things are not in conflict. Social distancing measures and a fast reopening of the economy actually go together. They’re not in competition with each other.”

As expected, the Fed’s policymaking board decided to keep interest rates, which are already near zero, unchanged as it concluded two days of policy meetings this week. Markets responded optimistically to the news, with the Dow Jones industrial average ending up 160 points at Wednesday’s close.

The Federal Reserve signaled in its statement on Wednesday that the Fed would continue to use “its full range of tools” to steer the economy out of recession, even as the virus significantly shapes the future of the economy.

“The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the Fed’s top panel of policymakers said in a statement at the conclusion of two days of meetings.

After sharp declines, economic activity and employment “have picked up somewhat in recent months,” the Fed said. Economists have been closely watching July indicators, which could help explain whether the recovery from earlier this summer is beginning to fizzle as some states and cities reimpose restrictions on businesses to combat rising coronavirus cases.

“Overall financial conditions have improved in recent months, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses,” the Fed statement read.

To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, the Fed said it would increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace over the coming months. The Fed has said its support of the markets should remain in place to help safeguard the broader financial system during the pandemic.

At his news conference, Powell said the Fed was committed to keeping its lending facilities and other emergency measures in place not only during the shutdown and reopening, but also through the “long tail where a large number of people are struggling to get back to work.”

“We’re in this until we’re well through it,” Powell said.

Powell’s news conference comes as Congress clashes over another stimulus bill and an extension for enhanced unemployment benefits. On Tuesday, President Trump brushed off the new $1 trillion Senate GOP coronavirus legislation as “sort of semi-irrelevant.”

Powell has repeatedly said that the Fed cannot heal the economy alone and that more help will be needed from Congress to ease the pain for millions of Americans. On Wednesday, Powell said funding from the Cares Act has been key to keeping people in their homes and jobs. He praised the Paycheck Protection Program, for example, for getting money directly to businesses that couldn’t necessarily have been saved through a Fed lending program.

“Lending is a particular tool, and we’re using it very aggressively, but fiscal policy is essential here,” Powell said. “As I’ve said, more will be needed from all of us, and I see Congress is negotiating now over a new package, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Powell has stopped short of telling lawmakers exactly what they should do, or how urgently they should act, saying it isn’t his role to tell other parts of government how to do their jobs. But on Wednesday, Powell pushed the success of Congress’s earlier programs as reason for lawmakers to act again, said Skanda Amarnath, research director of Employ America, a policy group that advocates for full employment and higher wages.

Amarnath said Powell’s framing could give some cover to Republican lawmakers who are less convinced more help is needed, or who dispute the connection between the virus and the recovery.

“[Powell] is trying to reiterate that you can’t think of this as ‘either or,’ ” Amarnath said, adding that when it comes to tackling the pandemic and the economy, “you’re going to have to tackle one to tackle the other.”

For months, Powell has insisted that the virus will dictate an economic turnaround, which he says can’t happen until Americans feel safe going about their daily routines. Since the Fed’s last meeting in June, rising case counts have forced states to reimpose restrictions on business activity. Minutes from the Fed’s June meeting showed officials were worried the United States could enter a much worse recession later this year if the pandemic is not contained.

At this week’s Fed meeting, Fed leaders were expected to discuss other policy tools, such as forward guidance and asset purchases, without necessarily coming away with any firm conclusions. Economists are also awaiting the release of the Fed’s long-term monetary policy review, which could change the way the Fed approaches its inflation target.

 

 

 

 

The economy is in deep trouble again. Coronavirus is to blame

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/23/business/coronavirus-economy-recovery/index.html

The economy is in deep trouble again. Coronavirus is to blame - CNN

Restaurant reservations are waning. The rebound in air travel is leveling off. And foot traffic at stores is dwindling once again. There is mounting evidence that America’s fragile economic recovery is already stalling as the number of coronavirus infections and deaths spike.

Real-time economic indicators bottomed out in May as stay-at-home orders were lifted and many Americans felt safe enough to start visiting shopping centers, restaurants and even airports.
That gave hope, perhaps prematurely, of a rapid V-shaped recovery for the United States from the historic collapse caused by the pandemic.
But there is now a growing sense that the recovery is losing steam as coronavirus infections surge in California, Texas, Florida and other Sun Belt states.
“The premature reopening of the U.S. economy has resulted in an intensification of the pandemic, which is now causing growth in the economy to slow,” Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM International, wrote in a note to clients Tuesday.
The stall of the fragile recovery comes as Congress debates whether the economy needs more stimulus — and if so, how much to provide. The $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits expire this month unless lawmakers take action.
Economists say there is nothing to debate: The recovery is faltering.
“Activity is now clearly contracting in COVID hot spots, including the Sun Belt and the West,” Aneta Markowska, chief economist at Jefferies, wrote in a report on Monday.
That is hardly surprising, given that 22 states have either reversed or paused their reopening due to health concerns.

Recovery hopes overdone?

This doesn’t mean the US economy will keep shrinking in the third quarter. Economists are still betting GDP will turn sharply positive after having collapsed by an estimated 34% during the second quarter. But now they worry that the forecasts for blockbuster growth may be overly optimistic.
For instance, S&P Global Economics warned Wednesday that its estimate for a surge in third quarter GDP at an annualized pace of 22.2% is “at risk of weakening” because of the health crisis.
“Although our base case is for a gradual recovery through next year,” S&P economists wrote, “the [recent] surge in COVID-19 and hospitalizations has raised concerns that a more likely scenario is that the COVID-19 recession has not bottomed out.”
The latest real-time economic indicators suggest those concerns are warranted.
More turbulence for air travel: The resurgence of coronavirus infections is derailing the travel industry’s modest recovery. The number of air passengers processed through TSA security lines fell during the week ended July 20, compared with the prior week, according to Bank of America. This metric is down more than 70% from a year ago.
United (UAL) CEO Scott Kirby told CNBC on Wednesday that the airline doesn’t “expect to get anywhere close to normal until there’s a vaccine that’s been widely distributed to a large portion of the population.”
Restaurant trouble: As the CNN Business Recovery Dashboard clearly shows, restaurant reservations on OpenTable have weakened in recent weeks. During March and April, as the pandemic wreaked havoc, reservations were down nearly 100% from a year ago. That figure rebounded to down “only” 50% in mid-June, but has since rolled over and stood at -65% as of Monday.
Foot traffic to Chipotle (CMG) was down 47% during the first week in June, according to Placer.ai, an analytics platform that uses anonymized location data. Traffic improved to down just 30% by the end of June, but has since “stagnated” through mid-July, Placer.ai said.
Retail slowdown: In April, US retail traffic declined by a staggering 98%, according to Cowen. Traffic steadily improved, with June traffic down 57%, but that rebound has stalled. US retail traffic fell 47% from a year ago during the second week of July, Cowen said, a slight deterioration from the first week in July when traffic was down 45%.
Small business shutdowns: As of Sunday, 24.5% of small businesses in the United States were closed, according to Jefferies. That is worse than late June, when only 19% were closed. Jefferies pointed to “particular weakness in COVID hot spots” and noted that small business employment had dropped to levels unseen since the end of May.
Weaker spending: After plunging by as much as 31% year-over-year in early April, purchases on credit cards issued by Synchrony turned positive in late June. However, Synchrony (SYF) said Tuesday that spending during the first two weeks of July was down 2%.
Unemployment website visits: Web traffic to state unemployment portals “leveled off at still-high levels, suggesting labor market momentum has stalled,” Jefferies said. That jibes with official government statistics in the CNN Business Recovery Dashboard that show unemployment claims have tumbled from their spike this spring but remain elevated. In fact, another 1.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week — the first increase in weekly claims since late March.
“The spread of the virus since mid-June has clearly had an adverse effect on economic activity,” economists at Bank of America wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. “It is clear that the path of the economic recovery cannot be disentangled from the path of the virus.”

No vaccine, no recovery?

That’s not to say all real-time indicators are negative right now. For instance, Jefferies said one of the last metrics to bottom out, a US job listing index that the bank created with alternative data platform Thinknum, continued to improve even last week.
Still, the New York Federal Reserve’s weekly economic index, which is composed of metrics on the labor market, consumer behavior and goods production, dropped for the first time since hitting the pandemic low point in late April.
All of this raises stakes in the race to develop a vaccine that is effective against Covid-19.
Vaccine hopes, on top of unprecedented easy money from the Federal Reserve, have helped catapult the stock market. The S&P 500 has spiked 46% since the March 23 low and is now positive for the year.
Real progress is being made on the vaccine front, underscored by a $1.95 billion deal announced Wednesday for Pfizer (PFE) to produce millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses for the US government.
Yet healthcare execs remain more cautious than Wall Street. Seventy-three percent of healthcare industry leaders polled by Lazard estimate that a vaccine won’t be widely available until at least the second half of 2021.
“It is becoming quite clear that absent an accessible and widely distributed vaccine,” RSM’s Brusuelas said, “there will be no complete economic recovery.”

 

 

Former Fed Chairs Bernanke and Yellen testified on COVID-19 and response to economic crisis

Former Fed Chairs Bernanke and Yellen testified on COVID-19 and response to economic crisis

Former Fed Chairs Bernanke and Yellen testified on COVID-19 and ...

In many respects this recession is unique. Most recessions result from developments inside the economy, but an external shock—the public health crisis—caused this one. To avoid getting sick, people have curtailed working, shopping, and attending school. Whatever the cause, the coronavirus recession, like all recessions, is imposing heavy costs. Many workers have lost jobs and income, and many business owners’ financial survival is at risk. The economy’s extraordinarily rapid decline earlier this year—as well as the sharp but incomplete rebound following the first steps toward reopening—reflect this recession’s unusual source. In addition, the sectors suffering most differ from past recessions. The heaviest blows have fallen on service industries that involve close personal contact (including retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and transportation) rather than, as is more typical, on the housing, capital investment, and durable goods sectors. Lower-paid workers, as well as women and minorities, are over-represented in the most-affected sectors, and thus have borne a disproportionate share of the job and income losses. And, the virus has affected almost every country, with potentially devastating consequences for trade and international investment.

Because this recession is unprecedented in so many ways, forecasting the recovery is difficult. The course of the pandemic itself is by far the most important factor. As long as people fear catching a potentially deadly illness from other people, they will be cautious about resuming normal activities, even after state and local governments lift lockdowns. Thus, controlling the spread of the virus must be the first priority for restoring more-normal levels of economic activity—but, more importantly, for saving possibly tens of thousands of lives. Members of Congress, local leaders, and other policymakers need to do all they can to support testing and contact tracing, medical research, and sufficient hospital capacity, and they must work to ensure that businesses, schools, and public transportation have what they need to operate safely. Both authors of this testimony are serving on state re-opening commissions, which has provided us insight into the substantial challenges to safe re-opening.

If the pandemic comes under better control, economic recovery should follow. However, the pace of the recovery could be slow and uneven, for several reasons. First, in the face of ongoing uncertainty, households and businesses may remain cautious for a time. They may increase saving and reduce spending, hiring, and capital investment. The longer the recession lasts, the greater the damage it will inflict on household and business balance sheets and the longer it will take to repair the damage. Second, the depth of the recession may leave scars—business closures and the deterioration of unemployed workers’ skills—that will affect growth for several years. Third, depending on the course of the virus, some restructuring of the economy may be needed. For example, people and resources will need to be redeployed out of the sectors most damaged by the pandemic, and business operations will need to be reorganized to protect workers and customers. All of that will take time and money. Fiscal and monetary policies must aim to speed the recovery and minimize the recession’s lasting effects.

ACTIONS BY THE FEDERAL RESERVE

The Federal Reserve has moved swiftly and forcefully in this crisis. It eased monetary policy in March by lowering the federal funds rate, the overnight interest rate on loans between banks, nearly to zero and indicating that it plans to keep rates low for several years. Low interest rates probably had limited economic benefits in the spring. Lockdowns prevented people from spending or working more. However, we expect low rates will spur spending in sectors like housing as the economy reopens. And the Fed may well do more in coming months as re-opening proceeds and as the outlook for inflation, jobs, and growth becomes somewhat clearer. In particular, to maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) likely will provide forward guidance about the economic conditions it would need to see before it considers raising its overnight target rate.  And it likely will clarify its plans for further securities purchases (quantitative easing). It is possible, though not certain, that the FOMC will also implement yield-curve control by targeting medium-term interest rates. It could, for example, target two-year rates by announcing its willingness to buy two-year Treasury notes at a fixed yield. The completion of the Fed’s internal review of its tools and framework in coming months will help guide these decisions.

The Fed also has been active beyond monetary policy.

First, the Fed has served as market maker of last resort by acting to stabilize critical financial markets when capital or other regulatory constraints have interfered with normal market-making or arbitrage. The Fed has served this role for repurchase agreements (repos) since September, when intermittent liquidity shortages led to spikes in repo rates. Banks did not provide liquidity to offset these spikes, as they normally would, citing balance sheet limits and other constraints. Because repo markets are critical to the functioning of broader financial and credit markets, as well as for the transmission of monetary policy, the Fed has restored more-normal function in repo markets by conducting large-scale repo operations and by steadily increasing the quantity of reserves in the banking system.

An even larger shock occurred in March, when uncertainty about the pandemic led hedge funds and others to scramble to raise cash by selling longer-term securities. The upsurge in the supply of longer-term securities, including Treasuries, was more than dealers and other market-makers could handle. Key financial markets, including for Treasury securities, experienced substantial volatility. To stabilize these markets, which like the repo market play a critical role in our financial system, the Fed purchased large quantities of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, again serving as market maker of last resort. It also set up a new repo facility to allow foreign official institutions to borrow dollars, using their Treasury reserves as collateral, thus avoiding the need to sell those Treasuries. Although risk and liquidity premiums in these key markets have returned closer to normal, at some point the Fed and the Treasury will need to review why the market-making facilities in place before the pandemic hit did not work more efficiently.

Second, the Fed has served as lender of last resort to the financial system, a classic function of central banks. Banks and other financial intermediaries typically borrow short and lend long—that is, they rely heavily on short-term funding to finance long-term loans and investments. If they lose their short-term funding—because their funders lose confidence or for other reasons—they can be forced to sell their assets in fire sales, restrict credit to customers, and, in extreme cases, become insolvent. Central banks can short-circuit that dangerous dynamic by lending to financial institutions against good collateral, replacing the lost liquidity. In the 2007-2009 crisis, which centered on the financial system and included a global financial panic, the Fed as lender of last resort took many actions to provide liquidity to financial institutions, with the goal of stabilizing the system and preserving the flow of credit to the economy.

Fortunately, the financial system is in much better shape today than in was during the financial crisis. Banks in particular are strong, with much higher levels of capital and liquidity. The Fed nevertheless has once again taken steps to ensure that the financial system has sufficient liquidity. Largely replicating our playbook from the crisis era, the Fed has eased terms on the discount window (which provides short-term loans to banks); re-established the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (which lends to broker-dealers); and established a facility that lends indirectly to money market mutual funds, ensuring that the funds can meet depositor withdrawals. In a novel step, the Fed also created a facility that lends to banks, without recourse, against Payroll Protection Program loans, ensuring that banks have sufficient funds to make those loans.

Under the heading of lender of last resort to the financial system, establishing currency swap lines with fourteen foreign central banks was one of the most important actions the Fed took in the 2007-2009 crisis. The Fed has revived this program. Currency swap lines allow foreign central banks (who assume all the credit risk) to lend dollars to banks in their jurisdictions. The broad availability of dollar liquidity is essential because most global banks do substantial borrowing and lending in dollars, including lending within the United States. The swap lines sustain the flow of dollar credit and reduce volatility in dollar-based markets, to the benefit of the U.S. economy.

Third, the Federal Reserve, with the support of the Congress and the Treasury, has also served during the current crisis as a lender of last resort to the non-financial sector, backstopping key credit markets facing the prospect of severe disruption from the pandemic. To take on this role, the Fed invoked its emergency lending powers under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act. Since those powers require that the Fed’s lending be well secured, it has had to rely on funds appropriated by the Congress and allocated by the Treasury to cover possible losses. Using these authorities, the Fed revived financial crisis-era facilities to stabilize commercial paper and asset-backed securities markets. Going beyond the financial crisis playbook, the Fed has also added new facilities to lend to corporations and state and local governments and to buy outstanding corporate bonds.

These programs have not extended much credit, so far, but that does not mean they have not succeeded. By establishing the programs, the Fed gave private investors the confidence to re-engage by reassuring them that the government would not allow these critical markets to become dysfunctional. Indeed, the corporate and municipal bond markets largely stabilized after the announcements, before any loans were made. Of course, if these markets seize up again, the Fed’s programs can extend credit.

The Fed also established the Main Street Lending Program to lend (through banks) to medium-sized companies. It is too soon, however, to judge its performance. This program is very different from anything the Fed has attempted before and poses difficult technical challenges. Although the Fed took many public comments while setting up the program, and made substantial changes, questions remain about how many banks and borrowers will participate. The Fed and Treasury may have to further ease terms for borrowers and increase incentives for banks for this program to have the desired effect. Or, the Fed and Treasury could add a new facility, along the lines of funding-for-lending programs run by the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, that simply subsidize banks for making additional loans to qualifying borrowers (for example, businesses below a certain size). That approach leaves the underwriting decision completely with the banks, while the size of the subsidy can be adjusted as needed to achieve the desired level of lending.

Finally, the Fed has also taken actions as a bank regulator—for example, encouraging banks to work with borrowers hobbled by the pandemic. It decided recently, based on stress test results, to bar stock buybacks by banks and to limit—but not eliminate—their dividends.  Based on our experience in the global financial crisis, we think the Fed may find it needs to go further. Although banks are currently strong, it is possible the pandemic will so damage the economy that credit losses mount rapidly. For a successful recovery, the banking system must remain strong and able to lend.

Is there more the Fed could do? As we noted, the Fed likely will provide more clarity about its monetary policy plans, and it may need to adjust the terms or borrower eligibility requirements of its various lending facilities. Broadly speaking, though, the Fed’s response has been forceful, forward-looking, and comprehensive. But, as Chair Powell often notes, the Fed’s authorities allow it to lend, not spend. Some households and firms will need subsidies or grants, rather than loans, and spending is, of course, the province of the Congress.

WHAT FISCAL POLICY MIGHT DO

The fiscal response to the pandemic has thus far been quite effective. Enhanced unemployment insurance and the Paycheck Protection Program have helped unemployed workers and their families, together with many businesses, survive the spring shutdowns. The fiscal support for the Fed’s lending programs likely will help preserve credit availability, possibly with only a portion of the allocated funds being spent.

However, some programs authorized by the Congress are ending, and new actions are necessary. Our recommendations for further fiscal action are:

First, Congress should develop a comprehensive plan to support medical research; increase testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity; make available critical supplies; and support state and local efforts to safely open businesses, schools, and public transportation.

Nothing is more important for restoring economic growth than improving public health. Investments in this area are likely to pay off many times over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moody’s: US healthcare system rebounds from COVID-19 in May, but a bumpy road lies ahead

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/moodys-us-healthcare-system-rebounds-from-covid-19-in-may-but-a-bumpy-ro/580152/

Banks rating downgrade: Moody's changes outlook on Indian banks to ...

Dive Brief:

  • A Moody’s Investors Service report on Thursday suggests that the U.S. healthcare industry is on the rebound from COVID-19, but recovery will likely to slow and uneven. Moreover, the report expressed concerns that regional flareups of coronavirus could majorly set back the return to normal volumes.
  • Investment firm Jefferies affirmed those worries in hospital traffic data shared Friday, noting “a sharp reversal” in hotspot state Arizona. Analysts tracked “record lows” in Arizona’s hospital traffic last week, down from what was thought to be the trough in April and sagging below May recovery amid a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases and protests.
  • “Whether states can continue their recovery even as cases increase, as we’ve seen in [Texas] and others, or if the recent reversals in [Arizona, Illinois,] etc. become more widespread is a trend to watch in coming weeks,” Jefferies analysts wrote.

Dive Insight:

Large sections of the healthcare sector all but shut down during the spring as the coronavirus led to nationwide shelter-in-place orders. However, as states and municipalities slowly reopen, so are the doors for hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, clinics and other integral components of healthcare delivery.

As a result, Moody’s reported “considerable sequential improvement” during May. For example, while for-profit hospitals saw surgery volumes drop as much as 70% in April compared to the same period in 2019, May volumes were down about 20% to 40% compared to last year’s. Hospital-operated ambulatory surgical centers saw an 80% to 90% drop in April volumes, but only a 30% to 40% drop in May.

However, Moody’s noted that the “path to normalized volumes are not linear.” It also pointed out that emergency room care volumes, which dropped as much as 60% in April, have yet to really rebound, as they still appeared depressed as much as 50% in May.

“This could reflect the prevalence of working-from-home arrangements and people generally staying home, which is leading to a decrease in automobile and other accidents outside the home. Weak ER volumes also suggest that many people remain apprehensive to enter a hospital, particularly for lower acuity care,” the Moody’s report said.

The firm also noted that “the shape of recovery will vary by state, region and service line, reinforcing the importance of diversification for credit quality among healthcare service providers.”

However, Moody’s believes that the darkest days of March and April are behind much of the healthcare sector. It noted that most providers have stockpiled appropriate personal protective equipment and have reconfigured their offices, waiting rooms and other infrastructure to protect the health of both patients and employees.

Traffic data from 3,300 U.S. hospitals, tracked by Jefferies via mobile device pings, indicates that compared to January 2019 levels, national traffic lows of 43.7% in mid-April improved to 63.3% by early June.

But state-by-state analysis reveals some parts of the country are trending backwards. Arizona fell to a new low of 28.5% last week after hitting 51.5% on May 20. The analysts also reported Illinois hit its own new low on June 7.

While Moody’s did express some concern about regional outbreaks, it concluded that the precautions already taken “make it less likely that the U.S. would once again shut down all non-elective care across the nation if there is a second wave of coronavirus infections.”

Moody’s did express some concerns about hospital finances, but noted that for-profit hospitals “have unusually strong liquidity” due to payouts from the CARES Act and other government-sponsored financial relief programs.

Medical device firms should be prepared for a long and uneven recovery, according to Moody’s. The dental and orthopaedic sectors “will see a greater than average impact from consumers’ inability to pay for procedures or their unwillingness to engage with the healthcare system.” Moody’s forecast “a gradual, uneven pace of recovery,” with pre-tax earnings to decline as much as 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, while revenues will shrink around 10%. It expects that earnings will rebound in 2021 to 2019 levels.

Companies that operate in discretionary sectors will be hit harder as they rely on patients able to meet large deductibles or co-payments or to pay for related procedures entirely on their own. Moody’s noted that a large number of these procedures are performed in acute care hospitals with the assistance of robotics, but hospitals may be more conservative in their robotics investments given new budget constraints.

 

 

 

Tenet receives $2B in grants, advance Medicare payments

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/tenet-receives-2b-in-grants-advance-medicare-payments.html?utm_medium=email

Tenet Healthcare CEO steps down after shareholder pressure

Tenet Healthcare, a 65-hospital network based in Dallas, received federal grants and loans to help offset financial damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the company’s presentation at the UBS Global Healthcare Conference on May 19.

Like other hospital networks across the nation, Tenet took a financial hit from canceling non-emergent and elective procedures to save capacity and supplies to treat COVID-19 patients. The company estimates that COVID-19 negatively impacted its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by about $125 million in the last few weeks of March.

To help navigate the financial pressures, Tenet has received funds from the $175 billion in relief aid Congress has allocated to hospitals and other healthcare providers to cover expenses or lost revenues tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of May 19, Tenet said it had received about $517 million in federal grants, which do not have to be repaid as long as the company meets the terms and conditions of receiving the relief aid.

Tenet also applied for and received approximately $1.5 billion in advance Medicare payments, which it must begin repaying in August. 

For the first quarter of this year, which ended March 31, Tenet reported net income of $94 million on revenues of $4.52 billion. In the same period a year earlier, the company posted a net loss of $20 million on revenues of $4.55 billion. 

 

 

 

 

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