Samuel Rosen’s research offers closer look at CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program
PHILADELPHIA, May 11, 2020 — One of the key components of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $349 billion fund designed to help keep workers employed thanks to forgivable business loans. An additional $310 billion has since been approved for the program, making it one of the largest U.S. stimulus programs in history.
However, the PPP found itself under considerable scrutiny after records showed that several publicly traded companies received funding. This is true locally, too. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, at least 20 publicly traded companies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey received $48.6 million in PPP funds.
“The news coverage about the public firms gained a lot of attention,” says Samuel Rosen, an assistant professor in the Department of Finance at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “It really made me start to wonder, ‘Who else has received these funds?’ Also, because some of the coverage had a negative tone, it made me think, ‘Is there more to this story?’”
A new study from Rosen and Anna Cororaton, an assistant professor of finance at Southern Methodist University, hopes to provide a comprehensive look at how PPP funds were dispersed among public companies. In their research, the two found that 273 public firms received a total of $929 million in loans from PPP between April 7–27. These funds represent 0.3% of the initial $349 billion disbursed through PPP.
Rosen’s and Cororaton’s research paper “Public Firm Borrowers of the US Paycheck Protection Program” was recently published in the 15th issue of Covid Economics, Vetted and Real-Time Papers. The publication is a new online peer-reviewed journal published by the Centre for Economic Policy Review.
“Because we were looking at public companies, there’s a lot of data available about them,” Rosen says. “As a result, we could perform an empirical analysis to understand the characteristics of the firms that borrowed. These results provide an important first step in understanding why these firms borrowed.”
After scanning Security Exchange Commission (SEC) filings to generate a list of all public firm PPP borrowers, Rosen and Cororaton came away with a number of key findings. The most notable include
- close to half of all public companies were eligible to apply for PPP funds and, of those companies, 13% received funds.
- public companies that received funding were smaller, had fewer investment opportunities, had debt on their balance sheet already and were more often located within counties that had COVID-19 cases.
“Public firms represented just 0.3% of total PPP borrowing and many more public firms were eligible but didn’t participate. I think that’s important to keep in mind when we evaluate the success of the program,” Rosen says. “Of course, every dollar that went to a public firm could have instead gone to a small business. We argue that the SBA should consider additional eligibility requirements if they want to target funds differently.”
Rosen does not believe the study provides a definite analysis on whether the PPP and its eligibility requirements were sound. He believes it does, however, illustrate the significance of eligibility requirements with stimulus packages. He says it could also be a good starting point for future research projects focused on the CARES Act and PPP.
“The PPP program is ongoing so we will continue to see more public borrowers,” Rosen says. “We plan to assess how the companies actually use the funds and to what extent they are better off. In the end, these are the key results we need for policy analysis.”
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