Can small businesses survive COVID-19? COVID-19 病毒对小型企业的影响与政府政策的回应

By Michael Xiaochen Zhang


NANJING, China —According to reporting from the New York Times, China’s 80 million household businesses employ over 200 million people. Furthermore, small and medium-size businesses make up over half the country’s economic output. On the other side of the Pacific, according to JP Morgan Chase, “Over 99 percent of America’s 28.7 million firms are small businesses. The vast majority (88 percent) of employer firms have fewer than 20 employees, and nearly 40 percent of all enterprises have under $100k in annual revenue.” Although large corporations may have savings and sources of capital that allow them to survive during the crisis, small businesses often do not. Their long-term operations depend on day-to-day business and, under shutdowns, they may struggle to cover overhead costs. Due to the economic importance of small and medium-size businesses, it is not surprising that both the U.S. and Chinese governments are scrambling to enact policies to keep them afloat. 

随着COVID-19病毒在全球的传播,小型企业已经感受到了该病毒对经济的影响。在这段动荡时期,美国和中国的许多小企业都在艰难地生存。尽管美国国内实体经济和股市目前受到新冠病毒最为严重的冲击,但中国国内经济在今年1月和2月受到的冲击最为严重。据纽约时报报道,中国政府官员说,中国8000万(家庭)企业雇佣了2亿多人,中小企业占中国经济产出的一半以上。因此,根据摩根大通银行(JPMorgan)的数据,对美国经济而言,“美国2870万家公司中99%以上是小企业。绝大多数(88%)的雇主公司的雇员不到20人,近40%的企业的收入低于10万美元。” 尽管大公司可能有储蓄和资本来源,使它们能够在这场危机中生存,但小企业却没有这些资金可以利用。 他们的长期运营取决于日常业务,而且在关闭期间,他们可能难以支付员工的工资和租金。 由于中小企业对整个经济的健康至关重要。所以毫不奇怪,在这一关键时刻,美国和中国的政府都在争先恐后地制定适当的政策,这将成为支持这些家庭小店的生命线,因为它们在全球流行病造成的经济衰退中挣扎。

The majority of America’s firms are small businesses
Source: JP Morgan Chase Data
美国的大多数公司都是小型企业 (来源:大通银行)

Both the Trump and Xi administrations have discussed and offered a range of policies to aid small businesses during the crisis. Proposed economic stimulus packages would increase government spending, lower interest rates and decrease taxes to stave off a recession. The South China Morning Post reported that, in a series of moves to bolster small businesses, China’s State Council (the cabinet), announced that it would grant banks an additional 500 billion renminbi (RMB) (U.S.$71.1 billion) for targeted lending, on top of the 300 billion RMB in funds already released by the government in early February. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been writing letters to Washington, advocating for legislation to help employees and small businesses. The latest letter stated, “every hour that Congress delays action increases the risk that more businesses will shutter, and more Americans will fall into unemployment. We urge Congress to act in a bipartisan manner to work out any remaining differences on this legislation and pass the bill without delay.” 


There has been much debate as to whether there will be a global recession in 2020 (or beyond). In the U.S., there have been warnings that the unemployment rate could hit a staggering 20 percent — by far the highest since the Great Depression. On March 27, the Trump administration officially signed the $2 trillion relief bill, providing small businesses with $350 billion in loan forgiveness. This injection of capital will, at the very least, help off-set large recurring costs in the near term. 

主要的经济问题和持续的辩论已经开始围绕2020年的大流行病是否会导致全球衰退而展开。随着全球股票市场的剧烈波动,新冠病毒的后果可能是全球经济崩溃。在美国,有警告称失业率可能达到惊人的20%,是自大萧条以来的最高水平。 3月27日,特朗普政府正式签署了2万亿美元的救济法案,通过法律为小企业提供了新的3500亿美元的贷款宽恕计划,以确保员工不被解雇,小企业拥有必要的现金来度过当前的经济风暴。向经济注入资金将有助于抵消小型企业的大量经常性费用:员工工资、租金和供应成本。但是,目前尚不清楚这些临时的新冠病毒临时货币和财政政策是否可以拯救小型企业并防止经济衰退。

A SAIS Observer reporter recently spoke with the manager of a small business in New York. Below is our interview with Marco K. Cattafesta, the manager at Badshah, an Indian restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

在纽约市,一位SAIS报纸的记者采访了一家当地小餐馆的总经理,这餐馆受到了新冠病毒的极大影响。 以下是与曼哈顿中城当地一家印度餐馆叫“Badshah”的总经理Marco K. Cattafesta的讨论和访谈。

How has COVID-19 impacted Badshah? 


Corona hit us out of nowhere. Up until early February, we were doing normal business, but starting in February you could see that in-house business was way down (possibly due to the media and panic), and our takeout business was trending upward. 


What has Badshah done to adapt?


Ever since the mayor implemented the takeout and delivery only restriction on restaurants in the city, this has forced us to figure out our logistics and delivery business model. We are doing more social media engagements to try and bring in people in the area and also asking for support from the community. Without this support, we will never be able to stay in business, even with the grants the mayor is offering. 

自从市长对城市的餐馆实行只允许外卖和配送的限制后,这迫使了我们弄清楚我们的物流和配送业务模式。 我们正在开展更多的社交媒体活动,以尝试吸引跟多地区的人们,同时也要求社区的支持。 如果没有社区的支持,即使市长提供了补助金,我们也将永远无法生存。

What policies do you think the local and federal government should implement to help your business?


We just recently applied for a no interest loan. The government is offering a $75,000 no interest loan to small businesses that are under 100 employees and can prove that they have lost 25% of their revenue. That, I think, can be very helpful with cash flow in the short term (we have expenses that won’t go away: payroll, utilities, and supplies). I don’t know what has been said about this yet, but I think it would be helpful if the government would pay the next two months’ rent for us, so that our landlord does not struggle. We pay $22,000 a month in rent here, and there is no way we can pay this. I think the best that the government can do is cover the rents completely and offer these no interest loans. I understand that you cannot give everybody X amount of money. But if you can offer loans, it will help small businesses such as us [with] cash flow to get through the hardest stretch of this virus. 

我们最近才申请了无息贷款。 政府正在为少于100名员工且可以证明已损失25%的收入的小型企业提供75,000美元的无息贷款,。 我认为短期内这对现金流很有帮助(我们的支出不会减少:工资,水电费和用品)。 我不知道这有什么说法,但是我认为,如果政府为我们支付未来两个月的租金,那将是有帮助的,这样我们的房东就不会挣扎了。 我们在这里每月支付22,000美元的房租,而且我们无力支付。 我认为政府能做的最好的事情就是完全支付租金,不提供任何利息贷款。 我了解,您不能给每个人和小企业补贴与钱。 但是,如果您可以提供贷款,它将有助于像我们这样的小型企业的现金流通过最艰难的时期。

A new policy restricts NYC restaurants from accepting dine in customers 
Photo by: Michael Zhang

Despite stimulus packages, businesses and citizens of both the U.S. and China continue to feel the economic anxieties as the full effects of implemented policies have not yet come to fruition. An adequate stimulus plan for small businesses will ensure that the most vulnerable employers and employees are protected from COVID’s economic pitfalls and that capital is disbursed in a timely manner. A last resort safety net would see the government not only reimburse wages, “but also essential business maintenance costs, like rents, utilities, interest on debt, health insurance premiums, and other costs that are vital for the survival of businesses in locked down sectors.” This means sufficient capital loans and tax deferrals for struggling small businesses, paid time off for at-risk employees and mandates for employers to protect their employees’ jobs and safety. Under the latest U.S. stimulus package, small business backed loans, which go towards paying basic expenses: employee wages, mortgage, or rent and utilities are partially exempt from being repaid (banks will be reimbursed for those exempt portions by the Treasury Department). In China, the State Council recently announced an additional 1 trillion RMB (roughly $140.8 billion) to be provided to small and medium-size banks, for lending at special rates. However, the details of how this capital has benefited small businesses have been inconclusive. According to CNBC, as of March 29, official Chinese data showed that small and medium-size enterprises nationwide had recovered at a rate of 76.8%

The key political, business and community leaders who step up during this pandemic will long be remembered as the luminaries who brought the citizens of the world out of isolation.

随着新冠病毒对世界上两个最大的经济体以及世界其他经济体造成严重破坏,各国政府面临着实施适当对策的任务。华盛顿和北京必须齐心协力,以准备进一步的新冠病毒应急计划,以防进一步的经济损失,并为国际社会树立全球舞台。目前,两国的企业和公民都感到由病毒引起的经济焦虑,因为已实施的政策的全部效果尚未完全显现出来。适当的刺激计划将确保最脆弱的员工和家庭免受病毒感染的经济困扰。不得已的安全网将看到,政府不仅偿还闲置工人的工资,而且“还偿还基本的业务维护成本,例如租金、公用事业、债务利息、医疗保险费以及其他对被锁定企业生存至关重要的成本。”这意味着有足够的资本贷款和税款延期可用于陷入困境的小型企业,为遭遇风险的员工提供带薪休假以及为雇主保护其员工工作及安全的命令。根据美国最新的刺激计划,小企业支持的贷款将用于支付基本费用:员工工资、抵押贷款或房租和水电费部分免除(财政部将向银行偿还这些免税部分)。随着小企业开始申请这些贷款,一个主要问题是流量增加导致政府网站的混乱和崩溃,从而导致贷款处理的延迟。在中国,国务院最近宣布,将再向中小型银行提供1万亿元人民币(约合1,408亿美元)以特殊利率发放。 但是,如何利用这笔资金使小型企业受益的细节尚无定论。 据CNBC报道,截至3月29日,中国官方数据显示,全国中小企业的复苏速度为76.8%。这两个全球大国必须抛开自我,打开透明的沟通渠道,以确保从病毒中快速,最大程度地恢复。美国可以采用更极端的社会计划作为缓冲,类似于中国和其他社会主义国家所提供的计划。尽管当前世界隔离,但必须让小企业和老百姓不要远离帮助,也不要被政府领导人遗忘。在大流行病期间勇敢地挺身而出的重要政治、商业和社区领导人将被铭记,他们是将世界各国公民从孤立无援中带出来并重拾光明的杰出人物。

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