COVID aid bank-fee revenue generated downstate, too

COVID aid bank-fee revenue generated downstate, too


Bill Knight

The saying “Think globally, act locally” has a parallel in how news is received.

Headlines stressing Big News can seem to imply important events or acts happen far away, not in our backyards. That’s true whether it comes from international or digital sources, national or local press, broadcasters or print.

Sometimes, the effects – or the participants – are close by.

A recent “Watchdog” story in the Chicago Sun-Times was an excellent analysis of Small Business Administration data showing how U.S. banks handled fees they charged for federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Journalists Lauren Fitzpatrick and Stephanie Zimmerman put into financial – and some geographic – context the bank practice of charging fees to furnish federal aid to businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PPP started in April last year after the pandemic forced businesses to close, jeopardizing not just employment, but the whole economy. PPP was intended to help small businesses and their workers, and it was launched with $342 billion in forgivable loans. Administered through banks, PPP let banks charge a processing fee, and U.S. banks earned more than $48 billion in such fees from April 3, 2020, through March of this year.

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