As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its seventh month, leaders in Washington are debating a second stimulus bill. On August 8, President Trump signed executive orders that extended the federal unemployment benefit, but reduced the amount from $600 per week to $400. The orders also suspended the payroll tax through the end of the year, and suspended interest on federal student loans.1
However, even as President Trump signed the orders, Republicans and Democrats continued to negotiate terms for a second stimulus package. Democrats support a $3 trillion package known as the HEROES Act, while Republicans have their own $1 trillion HEALS Act.1
It’s unclear whether the final bill will include direct stimulus payments to Americans. Both Republicans and Democrats have endorsed the idea. However, it’s difficult to predict at this point what stimulus payments may be included in the final legislation.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID, the election, and the overall economy, the financial markets continue to climb. After suffering deep losses earlier in the year, two of the three major market indexes are in positive territory. Through August 10, all index year-to-date returns are:
S&P 500: 3.53%2
While the markets have mostly recovered from their losses earlier in the year, volatility can strike at any time. That’s especially true should the COVID pandemic worsen or if the economy suffers continued damage. There also may be increasing uncertainty as the election approaches.
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