Incomes are collapsing throughout the economy, and both businesses and individuals face a crisis in meeting fixed payments they can’t control. The most direct step we can take is to temporarily suspend these payment obligations.
Suppose the government were to announce that, starting immediately, all stipulated debt and real estate rental payments were to be suspended for all borrowers and renters. This moratorium could have an ending date of, say, two months in the future, with the option of extending it if circumstances require. No interest would accrue to any of these obligations; in effect, we would be stopping the clock on them for a period of time.
Of course, if nothing else were done this would shut down the credit and rental systems completely for the duration of the moratorium, so a stipulation would have to be added that it applies only to debt or rental obligations established at the time of the announcement. We’d all have to keep two sets of books, one for pre-announcement loans and rentals, the other for post.
International obligations are somewhat more complicated, but the economic heft of the US is great enough that these conditions could probably be imposed unilaterally on foreign counterparties, especially if the logic of this step persuaded other countries to adopt a similar course of action.
A debt moratorium would dampen some channels of financial instability and provide greater security for most participants in the economy. By itself, however, it would not address the gaping hole in the real economy caused by shutting down whole sectors of goods and services production. That requires other forms of stimulus.