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Fed minutes reveal concern for virus effect on small business

Fed officials were concerned about the "disproportionate burdens or particular challenges being faced by small businesses" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the minutes of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee's April 28-29 meeting.

They were further concerned that "some business models may no longer be economically viable" even after social-distancing requirements are eased."

The potential for secondary virus outbreaks also "may cause businesses for some time to be reluctant to engage in new projects, rehire workers, or make new capital expenditures," they said during the meeting.

Update at 2:11 PM: Another point of worry: Temporary layoffs could become permanent, which could lead to some unemployed workers losing job-specific skills.

Regarding inflation: "The overall effect of the outbreak on prices was seen as disinflationary."

Even greater fiscal support may be needed, if the downturn persists, the Fed officials acknowledged. (Fiscal policy is the job of Congress, not the Fed).

Update at 2:28 PM: They also note the risk that foreign economies are facing, particularly emerging market economies "could come under extreme pressure as a result of the pandemic and that this strain could spill over to and hamper U.S. economic activity."

A number of participants pointed out that banks should be carefully monitored due to concerned that they'll come under greater stress; they see the risks to banks excacerbated by the high levels of debt at nonfinancial corporations.

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