President Donald Trump has asked top bankers to attend a meeting at the White House on Wednesday regarding the coronavirus outbreak, as leaders both inside and outside the United States continue to try to assess the economic damage wrought by the virus.
The White House didn't say who specifically would be coming to the meeting, set for 3 p.m. ET, though reports indicated Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report CEO David Solomon, Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Report CEO Charlie Scharf, Citigroup (C) - Get Report CEO Mike Corbat and Bank of America (BAC) - Get Report CEO Brian Moynihan will be among the attendees.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report Co-President Gordon Smith, currently sitting in for CEO Jamie Dimon as he recovers from heart surgery, will also be present, according to reports. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will lead the meeting.
The high-level gathering reminiscent of October 2008 comes as President Trump and other White House officials publicly continue to downplay the virus outbreak and the government’s response to it - both from a health and economic standpoint.
It also juxtaposes Trump’s dismissive public comments about the virus and its potential impact on peoples’ health, which as of Wednesday had infected more than 119,000 globally and killed more than 4,300, with Italy now in loc down and officially the second worst-hit region outside of China.
Trump on Tuesday promised to unveil “substantial” economic measures to combat fallout from the virus, including possible payroll tax cuts, an extension of paid time off for workers affected by the virus as well as assistance with medical bills, assistance for businesses impacted by the virus and aid for the airline and cruise industries.
He has also played down the seriousness and severity of the disease and his impact, continuing to praise his own actions of limiting travel to and from China in January as a way to mitigate the disease's spread, and shrugging off questions about his own exposure to others who are known to have been in contact with the virus.
One thing Trump has been consistent with is his criticism of the Federal Reserve for not taking enough action to offset what is expected to be a dramatic drop in economic growth.
“Our pathetic, slow moving Federal Reserve, headed by Jay Powell, who raised rates too fast and lowered too late, should get our Fed Rate down to the levels of our competitor nations,” the President tweeted on Tuesday. “They now have as much as a two point advantage, with even bigger currency help. Also, stimulate!”
On Monday, the Fed and other regulators put out a statement - similar to the one it issues after hurricanes and other natural disasters - assuring banks that they could be flexible with customers affected by the coronavirus without worrying about supervisory backlash.
Meantime, banks are facing their own potential perfect storm, starting with the health impact on their employees, spreading to how their customers will be able to weather the economic impact and, on a larger scale, how their financial operations - which underpin the U.S. and global financial systems - will be able to handle additional liquidity shocks.
Bank stocks posted their worst day since 2009’s Lehman Brothers collapse on Monday, with the four biggest U.S. banks each seeing a 12-16% drop, wiping out some $120 billion in stock market value.