Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the Trump administration wants to send direct payments to Americans within the next two weeks to help mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Americans need cash now and the president wants to give cash now," Mnuchin said during a press conference with Trump. "And I mean now, in the next two weeks."
Mnuchin also said the government intends to keep stock markets open but could limit trading hours.
Stocks turned sharply higher Tuesday following the announcement.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the White House is considering an economic stimulus of $1 trillion to $1.2 trillion to combat fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
Mnuchin wants to send out $250 billion in direct cash payments to Americans in April, with another $250 billion to follow in May if the economy is still struggling, Bloomberg said, citing a person familiar with the matter.
The press conference came one day after stocks fell the most in 30 years as Wall Street's concerns about a recession rose despite intervention by the world's central bank.
Mnunchin said he was working on a stimulus plan that he would present to Republicans later in the day. They include payments to small businesses and loan guarantees to critical industries like airline and hotel industries.
He noted that for airlines, the pandemic "is worse than 9/11."
“You can think of this as something like business interruption payments," he said.
Regarding taxes, Mnuchin said individuals can defer up to $1 million and corporations can defer $10 million in tax payments to the federal government without being charged for penalties and interest for 90 days.
Earlier in the day, the Federal Reserve pledged to support yet another portion of domestic credit markets Tuesday with a $10 billion backstop designed to help liquidity in commercial paper trading.
The Fed said it would create a so-called special purpose vehicle, under the direction of the Treasury, to buy short-term, high-quality unsecured debt issued by companies that form an important part of the overall financing system's credit markets.