WASHINGTON: In the first year of the Biden-Harris Administration, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has worked to support families and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and foster the country’s robust economic recovery. As Secretary Yellen remarked yesterday, “Unemployment is now at 3.9 percent – the sharpest one-year drop in the rate ever. GDP now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, and 2021 witnessed one of the biggest reductions in child poverty and child hunger in American history.”
Secretary Yellen also spent the first year restoring American leadership on the global stage and mobilizing counterparts to take on critical challenges like the pandemic, climate change, and fair taxation that benefits the middle class, including the landmark deal on corporate taxation representing 137 countries and nearly 95% of the world’s GDP.
Below is a look at just some of Treasury’s accomplishments in 2021:
Fostering a Robust Economic Recovery
Treasury established the Office of Recovery Programs to lead the Department’s implementation of economic relief and recovery programs, including nearly $420 billion in programs from the American Rescue Plan.
Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program made more than 3.1 million payments, through state and local governments, to keep families in their homes. Due to the Administration’s efforts to prevent evictions, including the significant progress shown in the implementation of ERA programs, eviction filings remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
Treasury and the IRS delivered almost $93 billion to the families of approximately 61 million children in advance monthly Child Tax Credit payments.
Treasury distributed more than $245 billion, accounting for 99.9% of available funds, to state, local, and Tribal governments as a part of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program to ensure governments have the resources needed to respond to the pandemic and build a strong, equitable recovery. States, localities, and Tribes have used the flexible resources on vaccination and testing programs, public sector re-hiring, affordable housing, payments to essential workers, and more.
Treasury and the IRS disbursed more than 163 million Economic Impact Payments from the American Rescue Plan, for a total of $390 billion.
Restoring American Leadership to Deliver Prosperity and Stability for Americans and our Partners
Secretary Yellen negotiated a once-in-a-generation deal with 137 countries – representing nearly 95% of the world’s GDP – to end the race to the bottom on corporate taxation. Rather than competing on the ability to offer low corporate tax rates, the United States and other countries will now compete on the skills of our workers and our capacity to innovate.
Treasury helped launch the first U.S. International Climate Finance Plan, develop new policies to end international financing of fossil fuels by multilateral development banks, launch a multilateral framework with South Africa to accelerate its coal transition, negotiate a landmark agreement ending support for coal-fired power generation export credits at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), release the Plan to Conserve Global Forests, and co-chair the approval of a Sustainable Finance Roadmap for the G20.
Treasury restored U.S. leadership in the multilateral system to promote a strong, sustainable, and inclusive global recovery from the pandemic. Treasury acted to address the deepening global divergence between rich and poor countries in recovering from the crisis and approved a $650 billion Special Drawing Rights allocation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to developing countries. Treasury negotiated a record $93 billion replenishment of the World Bank’s International Development Association one year ahead of schedule.
Protecting the Financial System
The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, together with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, released a report laying out a regulatory framework for stablecoins.
The Financial Stability Oversight Council released a landmark report identifying climate change as an emerging and increasing threat to U.S. financial stability and set forth recommended actions to promote the resilience of the financial system to climate-related financial risks.
Following several recent episodes of challenging Treasury market liquidity conditions, the Inter-Agency Working Group on Treasury Market Surveillance released an interim staff report detailing potential steps to make Treasury markets more resilient.
Secretary Yellen reinvigorated the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which met seven times to assess potential risks including those related to climate change, digital assets, commercial real estate markets, housing markets, hedge funds, and open-end funds.
Tackling the Climate Crisis
Treasury leveraged its tools, capabilities, and expertise to support the shifts in public budgets, tax policy, and the flow of private capital needed for the transition to a global net-zero economy. To coordinate this work, Secretary Yellen established a Department-wide Climate Hub and appointed Treasury’s first-ever Climate Counselor.
Treasury’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO) launched work to assess climate-related issues or gaps in the supervision and regulation of insurers and to further assess the potential for major disruptions of private insurance coverage in regions of the country particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. In August 2021, FIO issued a request for information (RFI) to solicit public input on FIO’s future work relating to the insurance sector and climate-related financial risks.
Treasury conducted a top-to-bottom racial equity assessment over the first 200 days of the Administration. The Department appointed Treasury’s first-ever Counselor for Racial Equity and is taking steps to create a Racial Equity Advisory Committee to provide the Department’s leadership with advice and expert counsel focused on advancing equity for communities that have historically been left behind. Treasury has also hired dedicated staff members to work with Tribal governments on the historic investments in Tribal communities through COVID-19 recovery programs.
Treasury announced the deployment of more than $8.7 billion in investments through the Emergency Capital Investment Program to increase lending to small and minority-owned businesses, and low- and moderate-income consumers in underserved communities, including rural areas. Treasury is also working to establish the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative, which provides $2.5 billion to increase capital access for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and $600 million for Tribes.
Safeguarding our National Security
For the first time since 9/11, Treasury conducted a wide-ranging review of the economic and financial sanctions that it administers and enforces. This review issued recommendations to preserve and enhance their effectiveness in supporting national security and U.S. interests now and in the future.
Treasury targeted a virtual currency exchange for sanctions for the first time, designating SUEX for laundering cyber ransoms. Treasury also sanctioned two ransomware operators and the Chatex virtual currency exchange network, issued a report on ransomware trends in Bank Secrecy Act data, issued sanctions compliance guidance for the virtual currency industry, and launched a partnership with the Government of Israel to combat ransomware.
Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a proposed rule to require U.S. and foreign companies to disclose their beneficial owners and a new regulatory process to address the vulnerability of the U.S. real estate market to money laundering and illicit activity. Treasury also sanctioned over one hundred individuals and entities for corruption around the world.