Federal Reserve Takes Historic Action as Covid-19 Ravages US Economy

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Federal Reserve announced Monday it would take supportive measures, including expanding bond-purchasing programs, to boost credit access for American families and businesses.

“The coronavirus pandemic is causing tremendous hardship across the United States and around the world,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement this morning. “Our nation’s first priority is to care for those afflicted and to limit the further spread of the virus.”

The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Made up of Federal Reserve board members in the nation, the committee said it will purchase Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities but it did not specify the quantity. Last week, the organization signaled it would cut interest rates to nearly zero percent and increase its own bond holdings by $700 million.

The release also notes supporting the flow of credit to consumers, employers and businesses by “establishing new programs that, taken together, will provide up to $300 billion in new financing.” In addition, using the Exchange Stabilization Fun, the Federal Reserve will inject an additional $30 billion in those markets.

Three other facilities through the Federal Reserve also will be created: the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, by which new bonds will be issued, and the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, to provide liquidity to existing bonds. Another facility, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, will support credit flow to small businesses. This program will back asset-backed loans like credit card loans, auto loans and student loans.

The primary facility can be accessed by companies throughout the national emergency, ensuring “companies access to credit so that they are better able to maintain business operations and capacity during the period of dislocations related to the pandemic.” The secondary facility will purchase secondary, corporate bonds issued by U.S. companies and U.S.-listed exchange-traded funds.

The Term Asset-Backed facilities will extend loans to AAA-rated businesses at “an amount equal to the market value” of those asset-backed securities, the release states.

In addition, the Federal Reserve said it soon will establish a Main Street Business Lending Program to compliment investment efforts and main street replenishment programs through the Small Business Administration.

“The Federal Reserve will continue to use it(s) full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals,” the release states.

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