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Fed Reveals New Measures To Support Economy, Including Unlimited Bond Purchases

jerome h powell 112818 23mar20 lt

Citing the tremendous hardship being caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve on Monday announced extensive new measures to support the economy.

The Fed said it is committed to using its full range of tools to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy overall in this challenging time.

The measures announced today include an unlimited expansion of the Fed's asset purchases, with the central bank saying it will purchase Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities "in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy."

The Fed had previously announced it would purchase at least $500 billion of Treasury securities and at least $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities.

The central bank also announced the establishment of a new program that will provide up to $300 billion in new financing in an effort to support the flow of credit to employers, consumers, and businesses.

The Treasury Department will provide $30 billion in equity to these facilities using the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

The Fed will also establish two facilities to support credit to large employers, with the central bank to purchase corporate bonds issued by investment grade U.S. companies.

The financial crisis-era Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility is also being reinstated to support the flow of credit to consumers and businesses.

Additionally, the Fed said it expects to announce the establishment of a Main Street Business Lending Program to support lending to eligible small-and-medium sized businesses, complementing efforts by the Small Business Administration.

"While great uncertainty remains, it has become clear that our economy will face severe disruptions," the Fed said in a statement. "Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate."

Last week, the Fed took the unusual step of slashing interest rates by 100 basis points just days ahead of its scheduled monetary policy meeting.

The Fed lowered the target range for the federal funds rate to zero to 0.25 percent from 1 to 1.25 percent, noting the coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the U.S.

The central bank said it expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.

In addition to cutting rates, the Fed also announced a new quantitative easing program, revealing plans to increase its holdings of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities by at least $700 billion.

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