Online Trading App—”Like a Video Game with Real Money,” One Expert Said—May Be Helping to Prop Up the Stock Market, Inflate Prices Beyond Their Actual Values
Robinhood, an online trading app whose market share has soared during 2020’s pandemic-related stay-at-home orders, is designed for generally inexperienced investors taking a turn at playing the stock market.  But, according to some experts, the popularity of Robinhood is driving prices of some shares above what they’re really worth, and that may be contributing to a stock market bubble just waiting to happen.

Pressure Grows to Automatically Forgive PPP Loans under $150K, but Fraud & Liability Are Concerns
There is a growing willingness among many in Congress, as well as the Administration and other entities, to automatically forgive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under $150,000—the argument being that such loans were made to truly small businesses that could have difficulty navigating the application requirements for loan forgiveness.  In addition, lenders say that evaluating thousands of forgiveness applications would be unnecessarily time-consuming.  Critics argue, though, that fraud is a real concern and that proposed PPP immunity protections for banks go too far.

Congress May Add Retirement Legislation to Next Pandemic Relief Bill
Spurred on by a worsening global economy, key federal lawmakers are expressing interest in passing another round of retirement reform legislation in 2020, and think that adding it to the next pandemic-related relief bill may be their best opportunity for enactment.  The upcoming elections and potential for political change, however, have added uncertainty to financial services initiatives, particularly on the regulatory front.

Malls, Gyms, Movie Theaters Will Stay Closed During Phase 4 Reopening
Despite intense lobbying from their owners, the state will not allow malls, gyms, or movie theaters to restart during the last phase (Phase 4) of the Governor’s coronavirus reopening plan.

Future PPP Loans Must Be More Targeted, Treasury Secretary Says
In testimony before the Senate Small Business Committee, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that any future round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans must “be far more targeted” and focused on industries/small businesses “having the most trouble going forward.”

4 Steps the Insurance Industry Can Take to Promote Equality
George Nichols III, current American College president and former president of the NAIC and Kentucky insurance commissioner, talks about his experiences as a black man in a white world and offers suggestions for how the industry can promote equality.

DFS Will Continue to Hold off on the Expiration of Producer Licenses
Regulators will continue to suspend requirements regarding the expiration of producer licenses, in light of ongoing pandemic-related challenges securing CE credits.  The original decision to suspend expirations was slated to end on May 24.  The extension is good through July 8.

Cuomo Approves 6 Regions for Phase I Reopening
Six regions—Central NY, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western NY—are allowed to begin reopening based on their meeting of certain metrics, and the Phase I businesses eligible to restart (construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and wholesale trade) in those areas must comply with new, detailed guidance and safety plan requirements from the state.

Governor Releases a “New York Forward” Plan for Reopening the State
Building on his initial announcement of a phased reopening of the state, Governor Cuomo has released a 51-page guide that lays out how the coronavirus has affected NYS, how the state has and should respond, and what a gradual restarting of the economy will look like.

Governor Outlines 4-Phased Plan to Reopen NYS
Governor Cuomo has laid out a 4-phased, regional approach to restarting NYS businesses, with Central/Upstate New York and the construction industry likely to benefit first.

DFS Says Producers Can E-Mail Clients about 90-Day Premium Deferral Period – No Physical Mailing Needed 
The DFS has determined that producers only have to e-mail clients to tell them about the 90-day premium deferral period for COVID-19 financial hardship—and only send to the client e-mail addresses they already have.

NAIFA-NYS Asks to DFS to Reconsider Notice Requirement for 90-Day Premium Deferrals
In an April 9 letter to DFS Supt. Lacewell, NAIFA-NYS stressed the great, and arguably unnecessary, burden placed on producers complying with the 10-day notice deadline for 90-day premium deferrals, and urged DFS to reevaluate.  The letter also conveyed results of the NAIFA-NYS COVID-19 survey.

DFS Offers Model Disclosure to Help Agents Comply with 90-Day Grace Period Regulation
The DFS has issued a model notice for agents to give policyholders telling them of the DFS emergency reg. creating a 90-day, COVID-19–related deferral for payment of life insurance & annuity premiums. More info, including a NAIFA-NYS breakdown of the reg., is in the COVID-19 Resource Center.

Governor Cuomo Signs FY 2021 Budget
Saying that despite the COVID-19 crisis “we have to be able to walk and chew gum,” the Governor on April 3 signed a FY 2021 budget unlike any other NYS budget.  It is “calibrated” to future revenues and losses in recognition, the Governor says, that “the State has no money” and is heavily reliant on federal coronavirus aid legislation.