The U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates Sunday and announced a big fiscal stimulus package in emergency moves to buoy an economy that has been roiled by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the central bank said it was cutting rates from 1%-1.25% down to the 0%-0.25% range. It will also re-start the “quantitative easing” process of buying bonds that increased liquidity after the 2008 financial crisis.
“The Federal Reserve is carefully monitoring credit markets and is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals,” said the statement.
It also announced plans to buy some $700 billion of treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities as well as a deal with finance chiefs from Canada, Britain, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union to lower rates on currency swaps to keep markets flowing.
“The coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States. Global financial conditions have also been significantly affected,” it said in the statement.
The coronavirus pandemic sent markets into freefall last week, with major outbreaks of the virus in China, Japan, Germany, Britain, France the U.S. and other big global economies seeing borders closed, flights stopped and industrial orders canceled.
The federal reserve “will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook, including information related to public health, as well as global developments and muted inflation pressures, and will use its tools and act as appropriate to support the economy,” it said.
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