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SBA Rule: Business Loan Program Temporary Changes

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SBA Rule: Business Loan Program Temporary Changes

WASHINGTON, June 20 — The Small Business Administration has issued a rule (13 CFR 120), published in the Federal Register on June 18, entitled: “Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program-Additional Revisions to First Interim Final Rule”.

The rule was issued by Administrator Jovita Carranza.

Effective date: The provisions in this interim final rule are effective June 16, 2020.

Comment date: Comments must be received on or before July 20, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: A Call Center Representative at 833-572-0502, or the local SBA Field Office; the list of offices can be found at https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices.

* * *

On April 2, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) posted on its website an interim final rule relating to the implementation of sections 1102 and 1106 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or the Act) (published in the Federal Register on April 15, 2020).

Section 1102 of the Act temporarily adds a new product, titled the “Paycheck Protection Program,” to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) 7(a) Loan Program.

Subsequently, SBA issued a number of interim final rules implementing the Paycheck Protection Program.

This interim final rule revises SBA’s interim final rule published in the Federal Register on April 15, 2020 by changing the eligibility requirement related to felony convictions of applicants or owners of the applicant.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background Information

On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration for all states, territories, and the District of Columbia. With the COVID-19 emergency, many small businesses nationwide are experiencing economic hardship as a direct result of the Federal, State, and local public health measures that are being taken to minimize the public’s exposure to the virus. These measures, some of which are government-mandated, have been implemented nationwide and include the closures of restaurants, bars, and gyms. In addition, based on the advice of public health officials, other measures, such as keeping a safe distance from others or even stay-at-home orders, have been implemented, resulting in a dramatic decrease in economic activity as the public avoids malls, retail stores, and other businesses.

On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act or the Act) (Pub. L. 116-136) to provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Small Business Administration (SBA) received funding and authority through the Act to modify existing loan programs and establish a new loan program to assist small businesses nationwide adversely impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.

Section 1102 of the Act temporarily permits SBA to guarantee 100 percent of 7(a) loans under a new program titled the “Paycheck Protection Program.” Section 1106 of the Act provides for forgiveness of up to the full principal amount of qualifying loans guaranteed under the Paycheck Protection Program.

On April 24, 2020, the President signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (Pub. L. 116-139), which provided additional funding and authority for the PPP. On June 5, 2020, the President signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (Flexibility Act) (Pub. L. 116-142).

II. Comments and Immediate Effective Date

This interim final rule is effective without advance notice and public comment because section 1114 of the CARES Act authorizes SBA to issue regulations to implement Title I of the Act without regard to notice requirements. In addition, SBA has determined that there is good cause for dispensing with advance public notice and comment on the grounds that that it would be contrary to the public interest. Specifically, advance public notice and comment would defeat the purpose of this interim final rule given that SBA’s authority to guarantee PPP loans expires on June 30, 2020. These same reasons provide good cause for SBA to dispense with the 30-day delayed effective date provided in the Administrative Procedure Act. Although this interim final rule is effective on or before date of filing, comments are solicited from interested members of the public on all aspects of the interim final rule, including section III below. These comments must be submitted on or before July 20. 2020. The SBA will consider these comments, comments received on the interim final rule posted on SBA’s website April 2, 2020 (the First Interim Final Rule) and published in the Federal Register on April 15, 2020, and the need for making any revisions as a result of these comments.

III. Paycheck Protection Program–Additional Revisions to First Interim Final Rule (85 FR 20811)

Overview

The CARES Act was enacted to provide immediate assistance to individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 emergency. Among the provisions contained in the CARES Act are provisions authorizing SBA to temporarily guarantee loans under a new 7(a) loan program titled the “Paycheck Protection Program.” Loans guaranteed under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be 100 percent guaranteed by SBA, and the full principal amount of the loans may qualify for loan forgiveness. The purpose of this interim final rule is to make changes to the First Interim Final Rule, posted on SBA’s website on April 2, 2020, and published in the Federal Register on April 15, 2020 (85 FR 20811). The First Interim Final Rule, as amended, should be interpreted consistent with the frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the PPP that are posted on SBA’s website[1] and the other interim final rules issued regarding the PPP.[2]

1. Changes to the First Interim Final Rule

Eligibility Requirements

The First Interim Final Rule provided, among other things, that a PPP loan will not be approved if an owner of 20 percent or more of the equity of the applicant has been convicted of a felony within the last five years. After further consideration, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury (the Secretary), has determined that a shorter timeframe for felonies that do not involve fraud, bribery, embezzlement, or a false statement in a loan application or an application for federal financial assistance is more consistent with Congressional intent to provide relief to small businesses and also promotes the important policies underlying the First Step Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 115-391). Therefore, Part III.2.b.iii. of the First Interim Final Rule (85 FR 20811, 20812) is revised to read as follows:

b. Could I be ineligible even if I meet the eligibility requirements in (a) above?

You are ineligible for a PPP loan if, for example:

* * * * *

iii. An owner of 20 percent or more of the equity of the applicant is incarcerated, on probation, on parole; presently subject to an indictment, criminal information, arraignment, or other means by which formal criminal charges are brought in any jurisdiction; or has been convicted of a felony involving fraud, bribery, embezzlement, or a false statement in a loan application or an application for federal financial assistance within the last five years or any other felony within the last year; or

* * * * *

2. Additional Information

SBA may provide further guidance, if needed, through SBA notices which will be posted on SBA’s website at www.sba.gov. Questions on the Paycheck Protection Program may be directed to the Lender Relations Specialist in the local SBA Field Office. The local SBA Field Office may be found at https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices.

Compliance With Executive Orders 12866, 12988, 13132, 13563, and 13771, the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Ch. 35), and the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612)

Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771

This interim final rule is economically significant for the purposes of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563, and is considered a major rule under the Congressional Review Act. SBA, however, is proceeding under the emergency provision at Executive Order 12866 Section 6(a)(3)(D) based on the need to move expeditiously to mitigate the current economic conditions arising from the COVID-19 emergency. This rule’s designation under Executive Order 13771 will be informed by public comment.

This rule is necessary to implement Sections 1102 and 1106 of the CARES Act and the Flexibility Act in order to provide economic relief to small businesses nationwide adversely impacted under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration. We anticipate that this rule will result in substantial benefits to small businesses, their employees, and the communities they serve. However, we lack data to estimate the effects of this rule.

Executive Order 12988

SBA has drafted this rule, to the extent practicable, in accordance with the standards set forth in section 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden. The rule has no preemptive effect but does have a limited retroactive effect consistent with section 3(d) of the Flexibility Act.

Executive Order 13132

SBA has determined that this rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various layers of government. Therefore, SBA has determined that this rule has no federalism implications warranting preparation of a federalism assessment.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35

SBA has determined that this rule will require modification to the existing PPP information collection that is approved under OMB Control Number 3245-0407 as an emergency request until October 31, 2020. As discussed above, this rule amends the PPP eligibility requirements regarding certain felony charges. As a result of these amendments, conforming changes will be made to Question 6 of Form 2483, Borrower Application Form, and Section H of Form 2484, Lender Application Form. SBA will submit the revisions to these forms to the Office of Management and Budget for approval.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) generally requires that when an agency issues a proposed rule, or a final rule pursuant to section 553(b) of the APA or another law, the agency must prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis that meets the requirements of the RFA and publish such analysis in the Federal Register. 5 U.S.C. 603, 604. Specifically, the RFA normally requires agencies to describe the impact of a rulemaking on small entities by providing a regulatory impact analysis. Such analysis must address the consideration of regulatory options that would lessen the economic effect of the rule on small entities. The RFA defines a “small entity” as (1) a proprietary firm meeting the size standards of the Small Business Administration (SBA); (2) a nonprofit organization that is not dominant in its field; or (3) a small government jurisdiction with a population of less than 50,000. 5 U.S.C. 601(3)-(6). Except for such small government jurisdictions, neither State nor local governments are “small entities.” Similarly, for purposes of the RFA, individual persons are not small entities.

The requirement to conduct a regulatory impact analysis does not apply if the head of the agency “certifies that the rule will not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” 5 U.S.C. 605(b). The agency must, however, publish the certification in the Federal Register at the time of publication of the rule, “along with a statement providing the factual basis for such certification.” If the agency head has not waived the requirements for a regulatory flexibility analysis in accordance with the RFA’s waiver provision, and no other RFA exception applies, the agency must prepare the regulatory flexibility analysis and publish it in the Federal Register at the time of promulgation or, if the rule is promulgated in response to an emergency that makes timely compliance impracticable, within 180 days of publication of the final rule. 5 U.S.C. 604(a), 608(b).

Rules that are exempt from notice and comment are also exempt from the RFA requirements, including conducting a regulatory flexibility analysis, when among other things the agency for good cause finds that notice and public procedure are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy guide: How to Comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, Ch.1. p.9. Accordingly, SBA is not required to conduct a regulatory flexibility analysis.

Authority: 15 U.S.C. 636(a)(36); Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. 116-136, Section 1114.

Jovita Carranza,

Administrator.

Footnotes

1. See https://www.sba.gov/document/supportfaq-lenders-borrowers.

2. See https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program.

[FR Doc. 2020-13130 Filed 6-16-20; 2:00 pm]

BILLING CODE 8026-03-P

The document is published in the Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/06/18/2020-13130/business-loan-program-temporary-changes-paycheck-protection-program-additional-revisions-to-first

TARGETED NEWS SERVICE (founded 2004) features non-partisan ‘edited journalism’ news briefs and information for news organizations, public policy groups and individuals; as well as ‘gathered’ public policy information, including news releases, reports, speeches. For more information contact MYRON STRUCK, editor, [email protected], Springfield, Virginia; 703/304-1897; https://targetednews.com

© 2020 Targeted News Service

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DOJ Files Suit Against Google Over Anti-Competitive Behavior

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DOJ Files Suit Against Google Over Anti-Competitive Behavior

After a nearly 16-month investigation, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, part of Alphabet. This is the first of likely a handful of lawsuits against one of the FAANG stocks.

The suit alleges that Google has engaged in anticompetitive conduct to preserve monopolies in search and search advertising. It is the most notable lawsuit on the grounds of anticompetitive behavior in nearly 20 years. The last one was when Microsoft had been sued by the government in 1998 accusing the software giant of unlawful monopolization.

The lawsuit alleges that Google is acting as a gatekeeper to the internet. It acts as such by creating exclusionary and interlocking business agreements that prevent competition. For example, the government says Google uses the billions of dollars it collects from advertisers to pay cell phone manufacturers to install Google as their preset, default search engine.

The DOJ lawsuit specifically points out that Google’s search application is preloaded on mobile phones running its popular Android operating system. It also points out the fact that this app can’t be deleted. The lawsuit adds that Google unlawfully prohibits competitors’ search applications from being preloaded on phones under revenue-sharing arrangements.

Keeping an Eye on Tech Companies

Large tech companies, like Alphabet’s Google, along with Facebook, Apple and Amazon, are in the crosshairs of legislators in Washington, D.C., who think that the government should have more control over how the companies operate.

In the U.S., nearly all state attorneys general are separately investigating Google. Eleven state attorneys general, all Republicans, joined the Justice Department’s case.

It’s not just Republicans who have a problem with Google’s actions. Democrats on a House antitrust subcommittee released a report this month saying all four tech giants wield monopoly power and recommending congressional action.

The company’s problems aren’t limited to US regulators, either. European Union regulators have also hit Google with three antitrust complaints and fined it about $9 billion. However, the lawsuits and fines have apparently done little to slow the company down.

Lawsuit Too Broad?

Amazingly, as news broke of the DOJ lawsuit, Google’s share price actually rose.

Fox Business’ Charlie Gasparino says it’s because investors think the lawsuit is too broad and will take years to litigate.

“When the news hit, when they read the complaint, let’s just say “underwhelmed” was the word of the day. Investors we are talking to are downplaying the impact of this suit on Google. They believe the suit, if you look at it, there’s a lot of heated language, but in terms of comparing to other anti-trust suits on tech, such as Microsoft that had really specific issues that Microsoft did to hurt a competitor… this lacks that type of specificity.”

He then added that even a worst-case scenario could be good for Google investors.

“They believe it’s too broad, they believe it’s going to take years to litigate, they believe Google has the financial resources to fight, and here’s the other interesting thing. They actually think that Google, even if you broke it up, and that’s the worst-case scenario, you could get a lot of value out of the sum of its parts,” said Gasparino.

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Rickards: Get Ready For Deflation, And Here’s Where Gold Prices Are Headed

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Rickards: Get Ready For Deflation, And Here’s Where Gold Prices Are Headed

Yesterday we brought you the first part of an interview by James Rickards. In it, he gave his outlook on the stock market. He also shared his viewpoints on why the Federal Reserve can’t create inflation despite printing trillions of dollars.

Today we bring you the second part of the interview, where Rickards discusses why he thinks we are headed towards deflation and not inflation, why gold falls when the stock market falls, and where he sees gold prices headed.

Moving Toward Deflation?

He says we are headed toward deflation despite trillions of dollars in money printing. Rickards thinks it’s because we aren’t spending any of that money.

“The greatest danger in the macro-economy today is deflation, because declining labor force participation, declining productivity, most of all velocity. Velocity is the turnover of money. It doesn’t matter what the money supply is. If there’s not turnover, if there’s not lending and spending, if the people aren’t chasing the goods, you’re not going to get inflation. But velocity is a psychological phenomenon. How do you feel? Do you feel prosperous, do you feel confident, do you want to go out and buy dinner or drinks, or do you feel cautious, do you feel concerned, you saw your neighbor lose her job, you’re worried about losing your job, so you save more,” said Rickards.

He said the savings rate is still at levels well above anything we’ve seen historically here in the US.

“The evidence is people are saving more. We’re in a liquidity trap. Saving was sort of working its way up from 5% to 8%, in April it was 33%. In May it was still 25%, in June it was 17%. So savings can be a good thing in the long run, but in the short run savings comes out of consumption. If I make money I’m either going to spend it or save it. Well if I save more I spend less. So all the signs are pointed to deflation. They can say they want inflation and they can print all the money they want, it doesn’t mean they’re going to get it.”

Gold Buyers

There are two types of gold buyers according to Rickards. The “strong hands” will be around when gold runs to $15,00 per ounce.

“There are two kinds of buyers of gold or investors in gold generally. The strong hands and the weak hands. The strong hands don’t use a lot of leverage, they use cash or capital, they’re in it for the long haul, they’re not day traders, I mean I watch the tape because I’m an analyst, I do a lot of interviews about it and I write about it, but I’m not a day trader. I don’t get too euphoric if gold goes up, I don’t get depressed if it goes down. I know where it’s going in the long run, it’s going in the neighborhood of $15,000 an ounce.”

Not Out of the Ordinary

He doesn’t offer a timeframe for the massive run-up in gold prices. However, he says it isn’t uncommon for gold to sell off along the way.

“That doesn’t have to happen next year or the year after. That’s the trend. I like to remind people, if it’s going to $15,000 an ounce, which it is, it’s got to go to $3,000 – $4,000 – $5000 – $6,000 along the way. So that’s the long term trend, so I don’t worry about the wiggles. As far as the stock market is concerned, this happened in 2008, I remember the worst part of it in 2008 in September, October and November when the stock market was absolutely crashing, gold was going down. And I was getting all these calls, ‘Gold is a safe haven, how come it’s going down?'” he said.

“What happens is in a liquidity crisis, everybody sells everything, especially the weak hands. If you’re leveraged and you’re in the gold futures market and you’re long and the market is collapsing, you’ve got to sell and get out, you’ve got to cut your losses.”

“Strong Hands” Stepping In

When this happens and prices drop, Rickards says the “strong hands” step in and start buying.

“If you’re a leveraged player, you’ve got to either come up with cash for the margin, or you have to sell your position which makes it worse. So what people do is sell gold to get cash to meet the margin call on the stock losses. Or they’re on the wrong side of the gold market and they’re leveraged and they just sell to cut their losses. So it does go down, it’s highly predictable. But the strong hands are waiting. It’s like a lynx or a mountain lion hunt. They don’t stalk their prey, they just sit there and wait and then pounce. Strong hands are watching, they don’t jump in on day one, they wait until it goes down enough and then they come in and buy and it goes right back up again.”

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DOJ Files Antitrust Suit Against Google

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Google Headquarters with bikes on foreground-Antitrust Suit Against Google-ss-featured

Yesterday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust suit against Google. The Justice Department alleged that Google maintained a monopoly on internet searches. Its dominance allowed it to cut off rivals from critical distribution channels.

RELATED: Legislative Changes on Tech Companies

Eleven Republican state attorneys general joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs. These are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.

DOJ Cites Sherman Act of 1890

Under the Sherman Act, DOJ lawyers alleged that Google illegally maintained monopolies. This covered markets for “general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising.” US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen led the filing of charges. He said that “Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth. It maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”

The lawsuit comes after a House Judiciary report that says some tech act as monopolies. Apart from Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook also got mentioned. The report recommended Congress to update antitrust laws. These changes can help with breaking up businesses.

Within a month, the Justice Department issued a lawsuit against Google. It is a result of a 16-month investigation into company business practices. Google got involved in a 2013 antitrust suit but did not get charged.

Monopoly Power In Online Search

Google allegedly tied up distribution channels for online search and related markets. The suit said Google “foreclosed competition for internet search” through exclusionary agreements. This prevented rivals from achieving the scale to fight Google’s dominance. The DOJ said Google holds 88% of the U.S. search market and 94% of mobile searches. Google allegedly harmed consumers by providing lower quality search and reducing choices.

The DOJ also claimed Google owns more than 70% of the search ads market. It said that the company’s monopoly power lets them charge more. While they charged more, Google provided lower-quality services in the absence of competition.

Exclusionary contracts

Google used exclusionary tactics with distributors of its Android mobile OS. As such, Google also suppressed innovation in the search market. Google allegedly requires phone manufacturers who use Android to agree to certain limits. Android-powered devices that aren’t compliant with Google standards face selling restrictions. The company then provides the same manufacturers access to its “vital proprietary apps.” They do so in exchange for agreeing to carry other Google apps. Under the agreement, the devices should prevent users from deleting certain Google apps.

Apart from exclusivity, Google’s revenue-sharing model for distributors helped expand its dominance. A senior executive described the model as bittersweet.  He said it was“a bitter pill for carriers, and a generous revenue share is a sugar that makes it go down smoother.”

Apple’s partnership

Google’s partnership with Apple is the centerpiece of the DOJ’s allegations. Google allegedly misused its power in an anticompetitive manner. At stake is a major revenue stream for both tech giants.

It’s no secret that Google relies on search traffic from Apple’s iPhones. The search engine is the default service on Apple’s Safari phone browser. This means that consumers get Google search results—and related advertising – automatically. The agency claimed Google “locked up” distribution by entering exclusionary agreements with Apple.

Google responds to the suit

Google Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker responded immediately to the suit via a blog post. He laid out the company’s rebuttal to the DOJ’s claims.

He wrote: “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives. This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. On the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.”

Walker refuted claims that Google’s arrangement with Apple is exclusive. Rivals also pay to appear in Apple’s Safari. He said Apple chose Google search because they found it as “the best.” He linked a 2018 article where Apple CEO Tim Cook complimented the search engine.

Missed the Main Point

Walker also said that the suit missed the “bigger point.” He argued that consumers choose to use Google’s services because they want to. In case they didn’t, switching default search engines is an easy task to do. Walker pointed to specialized search engines like Expedia, OpenTable, and even Twitter. These companies help people seek specialized information and are available. While Google pays for digital shelf space competitors “are readily available too.” As for agreements, he said that Google’s contracts are industry standard. They offer nothing unusual. 

Watch this as FoxNews reports that the US Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against search engine giant Google: 

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Do you think that the antitrust suit has merit and that Google might be too big a company? Do you use, or even know, any other search engine other than Google? If not, is that enough proof of the company’s monopolistic behavior? Let us know what you think by sharing your comments below.

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