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For public manufacturing companies:  Did application of the paycheck protection program match public perception?

Internal Auditing. January 31, 2022


The COVID-19 epidemic and resulting emergency public health measures forced a shutdown of many businesses during the early spring of 2020.  To stave off a cascading economic downturn of the U.S. economy, the CARES Act which included the Paycheck Protection Program was signed into law in 2020. PPP was purportedly intended to help small businesses survive the pandemic by offering them emergency loans, but the program has been the subject of much debate, particularly focusing on whether the loans were given to “deserving” companies.  To provide information to this discussion, we examine data from the fiscal year 2019 financial statements of manufacturing companies to investigate factors that may have led some companies to apply for PPP loans, and some to return the proceeds.  We find that manufacturing companies receiving PPP loans were significantly financially weaker than similar companies that did not receive PPP loans. Also, companies that quickly repaid PPP loans were somewhat weaker financially than similar nonPPP-recipients. Thus, it appears that most of the public manufacturing companies that requested PPP loans appropriately did so based on financial need.