It will be eight months on 27 November 2020, the day after Thanksgiving in America, since the CARES Act was passed*.

[* Interestingly, the CARES Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on 24 January 2019, but it had a completely different name and purpose. Sometimes things are introduced as "shells" -- vessels for later use. Maybe it was tough to find a a rhyme for this in the "I'm Just a Bill" song.]

The Act -- the largest economic package in U.S. history -- provided financial relief to consumers and businesses affected by Covid-19 and the various shut-downs. For many, the stimulus checks ($1200 per individual, generally) and the robust, but time-limited unemployment benefits were the only lifelines they had.

Collection agencies reported an increase in collections after the stimulus checks were sent. (They also reported an increase in consumer complaints, stemming largely from credit reporting practices.) But as that stimulus money dried up in households' accounts, so did that initial rush of collected revenue.

There has been talk since at least mid-August of a second stimulus payment, but, as of yet, there has been no movement.

As Clark Hill points out in a blog post today, "Talks on another relief package continue to be at a standstill, and it remains to be seen whether a negotiated package between Republicans and Democrats can come to fruition during the lame duck session, especially as the price tag for the package continues to be a main sticking point."

The price tag is certainly a factor, as well as the lame-duckness of the Congress. Also, talks of an effective vaccine for Covid-19 may cool, if only a little, some of the urgency around economic relief. Clark Hill also writes, "In a notable shift, [President-Elect Joe Biden]'s transition team is signaling that a smaller package, less than the roughly $2 trillion relief package Democratic Congressional leaders have previously called for, should be considered given the need for relief to combat the continuing economic fallout from the pandemic and with certain relief measures set to expire at year's end."

A second stimulus package could certainly perk up year-end collections, or, if not in time for that, at least a Q1 boost. And if the vaccine talk turns out to be action, we could see businesses safely opening back up with an increased need for employees and, possibly, even office space.

We've been through quite a year together. Any talk about the future -- even if it's just "tomorrow" -- needs to be heavily caveated since everything is exactly where we didn't leave it. As we start to gather our things and bid goodbye to 2020 (because we're polite guests), we can only hope that consumers and industry start to see economic wins.

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