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Apr 8, 2020

Finance: The Fed is lifting Wells Fargo's asset cap so it can help lend to small business

Jeff Cox

The Federal Reserve is lifting the asset cap it has imposed on Wells Fargo so the bank can participate in the government’s small business lending program.
In a move that was expected, the central bank said Wells will have to return proceeds it gets from the Payment Protection Plan and a coming Main Street lending program either back to the Treasury Department or to a nonprofit.
The Fed had imposed the restrictions following the bank’s fake account scandal in which it created millions of accounts for customers without their knowledge. Associates were under sales pressure in a program that Wells Fargo has since abandoned.
Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in the U.S. by assets, making its participation in the lending programs critical.
Since the intensification of the coronavirus crisis, the Fed has implemented a variety of programs aimed at helping markets function and getting money to businesses and consumers.
This move with Wells came “due to the extraordinary disruptions from the coronavirus” and “temporarily and narrowly modify the growth restriction on Wells Fargo so that it can provide additional support to small businesses.”

Market Insider | Biggest Moves Premarket: Stocks making the biggest moves in the premarket: Tesla, Amazon, Disney, Boeing, Zoom Video & more

Peter Schacknow

Take a look at some of the biggest movers in the premarket:

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) – The sporting goods retailer will furlough an unspecified number of workers starting April 12. It will pay workers until April 11, and provide health benefits throughout the furlough. A similar announcement comes this morning from Party City (PRTY), which is furloughing 90% of its store employees and 70% of those who work in other functions. As with Dick's, Party City's furloughed employees will continue to receive health benefits.
Levi Strauss (LEVI) – Levi Strauss reported quarterly profit of 40 cents per share, 5 cents a share above estimates. The apparel maker's revenue also beat forecasts. The company warned the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak would be material, and that it is withdrawing its 2020 guidance.
Tesla (TSLA) – Tesla will furlough all non-essential workers and cut salaries as the virus outbreak shuts down the automaker's production. Tesla currently plans to resume production on May 4.
Amazon (AMZN) – Amazon is suspending its "Amazon Shipping" service in June, according to the Wall Street Journal. The service is a competitor to United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx (FDX) that delivers non-Amazon packages and is available in only a few U.S. cities.
Walt Disney (DIS) – Disney may require visitors to have their temperatures checked when it reopens its theme parks, according to Executive Chairman Bob Iger. He told Barron's the temperature check is one way to make the public feel safe about returning to the parks.
Wynn Resorts (WYNN), NCR (NCR) – Wynn and NCR raised a total of $1 billion in separate debt sales Tuesday, the first unsecured junk bond offerings since the coronavirus crisis emerged. The successful sales are seen as a sign that investor appetite for risk may be slowly returning.
Boeing (BA) – Boeing is implementing two new software updates for its grounded 737 Max jet, as it moves toward securing regulatory approval to return the jet to service.
Williams Cos. (WMB) – Williams adopted a so-called "poison pill" that will kick in if anyone accumulates a stake of 5 percent or more in the pipeline operator. It's the latest company to take such an action in the wake of plunging share prices, but the move is coming under sharp criticism from proxy advisor ISS. ISS is calling for investors to withhold votes for Chairman Stephen Bergstrom, according to The Wall Street Journal, due to the highly restrictive nature of the shareholder rights plan.
UnitedHealth (UNH) – UnitedHealth is moving to speed up payments to doctors and hospitals, with the nation's largest health insurer saying it was making the move to ease the financial stress experienced by health care providers. The accelerated payments will begin with $2 billion next week.
Pinterest (PINS) – Pinterest withdrew its 2020 guidance in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, but provided preliminary numbers for its March quarter that met or exceeded Wall Street expectations.
Zoom Video (ZM) – Zoom is the target of a class-action suit, accused of overstating privacy standards and failing to make adequate disclosures about its security.
Perrigo (PRGO) – Perrigo said it saw a sales boost in the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak. The maker of over the counter drugs said a dramatic surge in demand took hold in March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.

US Market | Futures Indicator Update: Dow futures rise more than 100 points after Tuesday's wild ride

Fred Imbert, Maggie Fitzgerald

U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wednesday amid hope that the number of new coronavirus cases is starting to decline.
At around 7:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were 160 points higher, indicating an opening gain of 107 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also pointed to a higher open.
In the U.S., the number of daily increases in coronavirus cases has fallen since Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Daily increases in global cases have also fallen since then.
“If the curve is bending, for the first time, some time-line is coming into focus for restarting at least parts of the economy,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group. “This means investors can start to reduce their best guesses as to how long this recession will last and even if the recession is very deep, if its duration can be shortened and known with some greater clarity, this would tend to raise the value of the stock market.”
Stocks pressured by the coronavirus outbreak rose in the premarket. Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean all advanced at least 2.7%. MGM Resorts gained 3.8% while Wynn Resorts climbed 2.7%. American led airline stocks higher with a 5.1% jump. United and Delta traded higher by 4.9% and 3.6%, respectively.
However, some investors believe equities were getting ahead of the reality where coronavirus shutdowns are likely to weigh on the economy significantly beyond the second quarter. The major averages have rallied about 20% from their March 23 lows.
The uncertainty around the coronavirus has also pressured corporate earnings estimates. Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, thinks they could fall even more.
“We are still in the early innings of downward EPS revisions,” Calvasina wrote in a note to clients. “Further downward revisions could keep equity market conditions choppy for the time being.”
On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26 points or 0.1%, giving up a 900-point surge from earlier in the day.
The Federal Open Market Committee is set to publish its meeting minutes from its March meeting.  In an emergency decision ahead of that meeting, the Fed cut interest rates to zero, for the first time since the financial crisis.
Although the Fed’s minutes shouldn’t be market moving, investors will get some insight into what the central bank is using as justification for its historic easing measures. 

Opinion: 'It's a racial justice issue': Black Americans are dying in greater numbers from Covid-19

Kenya Evelyn

While New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo once called the coronavirus a “great equalizer”, data shows the virus has been anything but indiscriminate.
As the US climbed to more than 10,000 coronavirus deaths on Monday state health officials grappled with its disproportionate impact on black Americans. The disparity is especially stark in cities like New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit, where high concentrations of African Americans live.
Louisiana has the fourth largest number of Covid-19 cases in the country, and the majority of the Covid-19 deaths are in New Orleans, where black Americans constitute 60% of the population. “Slightly more than 70% of [coronavirus] deaths in Louisiana are African Americans,” the state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, said in a press conference on Monday. “That deserves more attention and we’re going to have to dig into that to see what we can do to slow that down.”
Midwestern cities including Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee are also reporting an increasing imbalance.
Detroit, which is almost 80% black, has the most concentrated coronavirus cases in the state of Michigan. The death rate in the city accounts for 40% of overall deaths in the state.
In Chicago, which is 30% black, black Americans account for 70% of all coronavirus cases in the city and more than half of the state’s deaths. “We know all too well that there are general disparities in health outcomes that play along racial lines and the same may be true for this virus,” said Ngozi Esike, director of the Illinois department of public health.
African Americans face a higher risk of exposure to the virus, mostly on account of concentrating in urban areas and working in essential industries. Only 20% of black workers reported being eligible to work from home, compared with about 30% of their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The virus has killed a high number of older black men because of this, though there have also been outbreaks among women and young African Americans in the south.
Meanwhile, experts also point to initial research showing a high prevalence of Covid-19 among those suffering from obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – risk factors more common among black Americans. The virus is known to take a harsher toll on those with underlying health issues, and many hospitals are only testing those admitted for critical care.
Critics note that those risks are significantly exacerbated by racial inequities in healthcare, including facility closures and caps on public health insurance plans like Medicaid and Medicare. African Americans are twice as likely to lack health insurance compared with their white counterparts, and more likely to live in medically underserved areas, where primary care is sparse or expensive.
Unconscious racial bias can also contribute to unequal health outcomes, especially when health professionals are inexperienced with the culture of the community they serve, according to the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The Century Foundation found that healthcare providers located within majority African American or Latinx neighborhoods tend to provide lower-quality care.
Governor JB Pritkzer of Illinois acknowledged racism’s role in the state’s response to the outbreak, but he called it “a much broader problem” that won’t be solved in a matter of weeks. “It’s hard to make up for decades, maybe centuries, of inequality of application of healthcare to people of color,” he said.
And while the virus doesn’t discriminate, Dr Uché Blackstock, practitioner and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, a healthcare advocacy group, said government responses can.
She noted that as the virus first spread, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially released testing guidelines that prioritized those who had traveled abroad. That meant Blackstock’s mostly black patients in low-income areas of Brooklyn and Queens were not tested as quickly as her more affluent, white clients in Manhattan who had the means to travel.
“What we know now is that Covid-19 had been circulating in our communities for much longer than we realized,” she said.
In Wisconsin, more than half of the state’s 86 confirmed deaths are in the city of Milwaukee. Limited testing and slow public outreach resulted in the number of cases in the city jumping from just one to more than 350 in less than two weeks. Health officials said the virus was probably introduced to the city after its first infected resident came in contact with someone from an affluent, white suburb nearby.
The state representative David Bowen, who is black, was the first Wisconsin lawmaker to be diagnosed with the virus. He told the Guardian that it was later confirmed he had passed the virus on to three others. Only one person was able to get tested.
“When white communities get sick, we in the black community are threatened to die from the same sickness, with lack of healthcare often leaving us to self-diagnose,” he said.
According to CDC guidelines, every state is legally required to track data on testing and treatment by race, as it has done during other outbreaks. Fewer than a dozen have released that data so far.
Last week congressional Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, both of Massachusetts, sent a letter demanding the CDC provide racial data. Without demographic data, health officials and lawmakers would not be able to address inequities in health outcomes and testing that might emerge, the letter said.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights also called out the CDC for not including those racial breakdowns. “This is a crisis like none other and officials in our state and federal governments play a large role here in bringing transparency,” said Kristen Clarke, committee president and executive director.
The committee sent letters urging state health departments, as well as Washington DC, to release their numbers. On Monday, Washington’s Mayor Muriel Bowser published coronavirus numbers by race for the first time: of the District’s 24 deaths, 14 were of black patients. After losing its majority-black status in 2011, Washington DC is now 45.5% African American.
Bowser dismissed questions on racial disparities, claiming “all deaths are a concern”. But for many black communities the threat of being infected by Covid-19 is proportional to their fear. According to Pew, 46% of black Americans viewed the coronavirus as a threat to their health, more than double their white counterparts.
“We know that black Americans are particularly vulnerable. This is a social, economic and racial justice issue,” Clarke said. “How one community is treated impacts all communities across the country.”

Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202: Trump rails against supposed dangers of mail in voting as coronavirus spreads

By Joseph Marks

President Trump at a coronavirus task force briefing. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg News)

President Trump railed yesterday against expanding voting by mail to keep U.S. citizens safe during the coronavirus pandemic, calling the process “horrible,” “corrupt” and prone to widespread fraud. 
It's a controversial marker for the president to set down when many states have had to delay their primary elections because of fears that in-person voting could spread the virus. And it puts him at odds with congressional Democrats pushing for billions in federal money to ensure no-excuse absentee voting for all Americans in November – as well as many Republican state officials in places like Georgia and West Virginia that are  rushing to broaden mail-in voting during the pandemic.
Trump's pointed criticism could cast doubt on the validity of mail-in balloting for some of his supporters and make it awkward for Republican state officials who want to pursue the strategy in case in-person voting is still a problem in November.
“Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters,” Trump said during his daily coronavirus news conference, though there is no evidence that mail in voting substantially increases fraud. In fact, election security hawks may be pleased to see an all-paper ballot election that by nature limits the hacking and other dangers of an electronic process.
Nonetheless, the president went on to charge that widespread voting by mail would lead to thousands of forged ballots. But the president defended his own decision to vote by mail in Florida, saying out-of-state mail votes are more acceptable and suggesting his absentee ballot was better verified than others.
“I can vote by mail because I’m allowed to,” he said. “I happen to be in the White House, and I won’t be able to go to Florida to vote.”
The declarations came the same day Wisconsin held a primary election bedeviled by closed polling sites, long, snaking lines and voters who said they were forced to show up at the polls after absentee ballots they requested after the pandemic struck never arrived, as my colleagues Elise Viebeck, Amy Gardner, Dan Simmons and Jan M. Larson report.
Wisconsin is the only state with an April primary that didn't delay voting because of the pandemic. The election went forward after the Republican-led legislature and state Supreme Court blocked efforts by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to postpone voting.
That prompted Democrats to accuse Republicans of forcing voters to risk their health to exercise their democratic rights. They also fretted that if the federal government doesn’t move fast, it could result in millions of Americans being disenfranchised in November.
Trump has also played into Democrats' fears, seeming to suggest during an earlier news conference that voting by mail would favor Democrats and that if he had agreed to Democrats’ demands for $4 billion for voting by mail and other reforms in the recent $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Democrats were able to secure only $400 million with no mandates on how states must spend the money in the stimulus bill. A Senate bill  mandating nationwide access to absentee ballots and expanded early voting days sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) hasn't won over any Republicans.
The fight also “foreshadowed the likelihood that Wisconsin, an important presidential battleground state, could become the epicenter of partisan rancor as the health crisis continues to upend the 2020 race,” as my colleagues noted. 
State officials don't plan to release results in the race until Monday.
Trump yesterday described alleged instances of absentee voter fraud where “you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room signing ballots.".
There’s no evidence at all of absentee voter fraud on that scale, and states that vote entirely by mail range from left-leaning Washington and Oregon to conservative Utah. Absentee voting is at the center of a handful of voting fraud scandals, however, most notably during a 2018 North Carolina congressional race, which led the State Board of Elections there to order a new vote and produced criminal charges against a Republican operative among others.
Trump also charged, incorrectly, that Evers tried to delay the vote only after the president endorsed the Republican in a hotly contested state Supreme Court case. In fact, Evers pushed to delay the election before Trump’s endorsement and has been seeking other remedies –  including sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters. But he is barred from acting without the legislature.
CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez documented the blocks-long line outside one of only five voting locations that opened in Milwaukee because of public health concerns and a dearth of poll workers willing and able to work during the pandemic.
The city typically has about 180 polling locations open on Election Day.
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, THIS is the line for in person voting as the polls open for Election Day in Wisconsin. #COVID19 #ElectionDay
— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) April 7, 2020
Klobuchar called the long lines “outrageous,” declaring “we cannot continue to ignore the threat that #COVID19 has on our elections.”
What's happening at polling locations across Wisconsin right now is outrageous. We cannot continue to ignore the threat that #COVID19 has on our elections.
We must plan ahead for Nov. & pass my bill to keep all Americans safe by expanding #VoteByMail & extending early voting.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) April 7, 2020
Even former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted that no American should have to choose between protecting their health and casting a ballot.
Today, Wisconsin voters had to choose between making their voice heard and keeping themselves and their family safe. No American should ever have to make that choice.
We must do better to ensure voting is safe for all voters. The latest Wisconsin voting information is below.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) April 7, 2020
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a former presidential candidate, used Wisconsin’s primary to release her own plan, which calls for least $4 billion to protect elections during the pandemic along with all the same mandates in the Klobuchar-Wyden bill.
The plan got an enthusiastic thumbs up from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who remains in the Democratic primary race but is trailing far behind former vice president Joe Biden.
I agree with @ewarren that our response to the COVID-19 crisis must include a robust plan to protect the right to vote, and in fact, make it easier to vote.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 7, 2020


 Richard Grenell. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

PINGED: House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) plans to ramp up congressional oversight of the intelligence community after a series of changes he says suggest intelligence officials might be unduly influenced by the White House. Those actions threaten to undermine critical intelligence functions, including election security, he said in a letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.
The letter cites concerns that intelligence officials walked back a March 10 assessment that Russia is supporting Trump in 2020 after the assessment leaked and embarrassed the White House. Trump tapped Grenell, a longtime loyalist, to replace acting DNI Joseph Maguire after that briefing despite Grenell's limited intelligence experience.
“It calls into doubt whether Congress and the American people can trust that the [intelligence community] will continue producing unvarnished intelligence assessments on foreign interference efforts as the 2020 presidential election approaches,” Schiff wrote.
He asked Grenell for an updated briefing on election security by the end of May. The letter also raises concerns about Trump's recent firing of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson who played a pivotal role in his impeachment.
Grenell accused Schiff on Twitter of sending the letter to the media before his office, an allegation Schiff denied.
His letter was sent to the press before it was sent to me. These press leaks politicizing the intelligence community must stop.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) April 7, 2020

(Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
PATCHED: A group of Democrats including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate video conferencing company Zoom, Cristiano Lima at Politico reports. Blumenthal slammed the company for a pattern of security and privacy infringements and for misleading users over the level of security it offers.
The facts & practices unearthed by researchers in recent weeks are alarming—we should be concerned about what remains hidden. As Zoom becomes embedded in Americans’ daily lives, we urgently need a full & transparent investigation of its privacy & security.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) April 7, 2020
The request escalates security concerns raised by several lawmakers in the past week over how the company handles sensitive user data. Zoom has released several fixes in response to concerns and said it’s eager to cooperate with lawmakers.
The Department of Homeland Security said that the company has begun to address security concerns and that Zoom’s product for government is safe for federal use, Raphael Satter and Christopher Bing at Reuters report.

A protective mask is improperly discarded on a curb. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images)
PWNED: Hackers are ramping up their use of the coronavirus as a lure for digital scams, researchers at the cybersecurity firm McAfee report this week. Hackers have used the dark web and encrypted messaging groups to spread scams selling face masks — and even blood from a person who allegedly recovered from the virus and might be immune.
McAfee lead scientist Christiaan Beek:
Seriously I hope this is a hoax/scam #Darknet
— Christiaan Beek (@ChristiaanBeek) March 30, 2020
“The volume of threats related to COVID-19 has been significant, with lures used in all manner of attacks,” Beek and researcher Raj Samani write. Hackers have hit the health-care sector, followed by finance and education, the hardest.
McAfee Labs found several malicious Android applications with names like “Corona Safety mask” that contained spyware and ransomware. Researchers also noticed an increase in coronavirus-themed documents that were being sent to victims and contained malware that would steal their personal information.


Still hungry for more election security guidance? Here are reports out yesterday and this morning from the cybersecurity company Expel, Free Speech for People and Verified Voting.
The North American Energy Reliability Corporation wants to delay the deadline for several cybersecurity upgrades for the energy sector during the pandemic, Homeland Security Today reports. Fortress Information Security CEO Alex Santos told me by email that was a “necessary decision” as “most utilities are ‘all hands on deck’ protecting their vast remote workforce from cyberattacks.”
— More cybersecurity news from the public sector:

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) raised concerns on Tuesday around potential privacy violations involved in Google’s decision last week to share anonymized location data to help track movement during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Hill

If you’re not already skeptical of emails asking for money in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the FBI wants you to remember this: It’s a common scam these days. And it works.

In court filing, Israeli spyware company says it does not operate technology it provides
The Guardian


Cybersecurity news from the private sector:

A study by Oxford University researchers examined 225 pieces of content that independent fact checkers had rated false or misleading between January and March. They found that 59 percent remained on Twitter, 27 percent on YouTube, and 24 percent on Facebook.
Craig Timberg

Exclusive: The data has already been posted on a popular hacking forum.


Cybersecurity news from abroad:

India has told Facebook and Chinese video app TikTok to remove users found to be spreading misinformation about the coronavirus following concern about videos intended to mislead Muslims, according to a government source and a letter seen by Reuters.

Business News: EU ministers fail to agree virus economic rescue in all-night talks

Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union finance ministers failed to agree in all-night talks on more support for their coronavirus-hit economies and their chairman said on Wednesday morning he was suspending the discussions until Thursday.
FILE PHOTO: Eurogroup President Mario Centeno arrives at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

Diplomatic sources and officials said a feud between Italy and the Netherlands over what conditions should be attached to euro zone credit for governments fighting the pandemic was blocking progress on half a trillion euros worth of aid.
“After 16 hours of discussions we came close to a deal but we are not there yet,” Eurogroup chairman Mario Centeno said. “I suspended the Eurogroup and (we will)continue tomorrow.”
The finance ministers, who started talks at 1430 GMT on Tuesday that lasted all night with numerous breaks to allow for bilateral negotiations, are trying to agree a package of measures to help governments, companies and individuals.
They had hoped to agree on a half-trillion-euro programme to cushion the economic slump and finance recovery from the pandemic, and turn a page on divisions that have marred relations as the bloc struggles with the outbreak.
But feuds emerged prominently again, one diplomatic source said: “The Italians want a reference to debt mutualisation as a possible recovery instrument to be analysed more in the future. The Dutch say ‘no’.”
An official who participated in the talks said at around 0400 GMT on Wednesday The Hague was the only one refusing to endorse a text that the ministers were expected to agree on to get endorsement for a new set of economic measures from the bloc’s 27 national leaders.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Twitter:
“In this difficult hour Europe must stand together closely. Together with (French finance minister) Bruno Le Maire, I therefore call on all euro countries not to refuse to resolve these difficult financial issues and to facilitate a good compromise - for all citizens.”
Issuing joint debt has been a battle line between economically ailing southern countries like Spain and Italy and the fiscally frugal north, led by Germany and the Netherlands, since the financial and euro zone crises began over a decade ago.


To support economies burdened by coronavirus lockdowns, the EU has already suspended state aid limits and allowed member states to inflate their debt to spend more.
But Spain, France and Italy say that is not enough and have cast the discussion about more support as an existential test of solidarity that could make or break the EU.
Further proposals under discussions include credit lines from the euro zone bailout fund that would be worth up to 2% of a country’s economic output, or 240 billion euros in total. The conditions for gaining access to this money remain a sticking point.
Granting the European Investment Bank 25 billion euros of extra guarantees so it can step up lending to companies by a further 200 billion euros is another option.
The third is support for the EU executive’s plan to raise 100 billion euros on the market against 25 billion euros of guarantees from all governments in the bloc to subsidise wages so that firms can cut working hours rather than sack people.
Creating an emergency support fund issuing grants for medical supplies and health care is another idea, as is a French proposal to create a joint EU solidarity fund to finance long-term recovery.
If they do eventually agree, the combined pan-EU and national government responses could add up to the biggest fiscal support programme in the world, surpassing that of the United States, Reuters calculations showed.
While the EU is no stranger to protracted horse-trading, the discussion exposes rifts in the bloc and further strains its unity, already damaged by the euro zone crisis and the 2015-16 migration crisis, which partly contributed to Brexit.
So far the ministers, discussing via videoconference through the night with some of them dozing off at times, according to officials present, have been left frustrated.
Le Maire was quoted as saying at one point during the night, according to one official who participated: “Shame on you, shame on Europe. Stop this clownesque show.”
(This story has been corrected to delete extraneous word in paragraph 7.)
Additional reporting by Michelle Martin, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Catherine Evans and Giles Elgood