Staff Reports
COVID Response: The Main Street Lending Program
Number 984
September 2021

JEL classification: G2, E3, E58

Authors: David Arseneau, Jose Fillat, Molly Mahar, Donald P. Morgan, and Skander Van den Heuvel

The Main Street Lending Program was created to support credit to small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofit organizations that were harmed by the pandemic, particularly those that were unsupported by other pandemic-response programs. It was the most direct involvement in the business loan market by the Federal Reserve since the 1930s and 1940s. Main Street operated by buying 95 percent participations in standardized loans from lenders (mostly banks) and sharing the credit risk with them. It would end up supporting loans to more than 2,400 borrowers and co-borrowers across the United States, with an average loan size of $9.5 million and total volume of $17.5 billion. This article describes the facility's goals, its design, the challenges and constraints that shaped its reach, and the characteristics of its borrowers and lenders. We conclude with some lessons learned for future policymakers and facility designers.

This paper was prepared for an upcoming issue of the Economic Policy Review and a related New York Fed conference, “Implications of Federal Reserve Actions in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Available only in PDF
AUTHOR DISCLOSURE STATEMENT(S)
David Arseneau
I, David Arseneau, declare that I have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

Jose Fillat
I do not have anything to disclose with respect to conflict of interests. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

Donald Morgan
I have nothing to disclose in regards to the Main Street Lending Program paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

Molly Mahar
I, Molly Mahar, declare that I have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

Skander Van den Heuvel
I, Skander Van den Heuvel, declare that I have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.
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