Daily Bread for 8.18.21: Paycheck Protection Loan Fraud

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with scattered thunderstorms and a high of 84. Sunrise is 6:05 AM and sunset 7:51 PM, for 13h 45m 23s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 80.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Tech Park Board meets at 8 AM and the Parks and Recreation Board meets at 5:30 PM

 On this day in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing women’s suffrage.

Stacy Cowley reports 15% of Paycheck Protection Program Loans Could Be Fraudulent, Study Shows (‘Some $76 billion of the program’s $800 billion in loans may have been taken improperly, a new paper concludes’):

When the Paycheck Protection Program began last year to help small businesses that were struggling during the pandemic, the federal government was determined to get the relief money out fast — so it waived much of the vetting lenders traditionally do on business loans.

The absence of those safeguards meant that fraud was highly likely. But just how much of the program’s $800 billion was taken illicitly?

A new academic working paper released on Tuesday contains an estimate: Around 1.8 million of the program’s 11.8 million loans — more than 15 percent — totaling $76 billion had at least one indication of potential fraud, the researchers concluded.

“There’s been a lot of anecdotes about fraud, but the tricky thing about anecdotes is that it’s very difficult to put them together and get at the scale of what’s going on,” said Samuel Kruger, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business and one of the paper’s authors. “We wanted to look for patterns in the data.”

The study pins blame for many of the questionable loans on one particular group of lenders: financial technology firms, known as “fintechs,” which focus on digital lending. Nine of the 10 lenders with the highest rate of suspicious loans fell into that group.

“Certain fintech lenders seem to specialize in dubious loans,” the authors wrote. Collectively, fintechs made around 29 percent of the program’s loans but accounted for more than half of its suspicious loans, the study concluded.

The Paycheck Protection Program, which ran intermittently from April 2020 to May 2021, relied on banks and other lenders to make the government-guaranteed loans, which are designed to be forgiven if borrowers followed the program’s rules. Government watchdogs have long warned of a high fraud risk on the rushed loans; the Justice Department has charged more than 500 people with improperly claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing.

These billions are those with one indication of fraud. One reads further on that a “more restrictive calculation by the researchers, of loans with at least two suspicious characteristics, identified 1.2 million potentially fraudulent loans, totaling $38 billion.”

And yet, and yet, even a single billion saved or properly & lawfully spent would make a considerable difference. If, for example, Wisconsin had an additional billion to save or spend it would amount to roughly $175 per person.

How easily these numbers tally.

Orphaned Monkeys Receive Much-Needed TLC at Bolivian Sanctuary:

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