Fed slashes interest rates to near zero due to coronavirus


On March 3, it cut interest rates by a half of a percentage point and last week in the face of an accelerating market meltdown it injected cash into short-term funding markets and launched a wave of Treasury security purchases.

"The Fed needs to supply liquidity to deal with the panic-whether by quantitative-easing purchases of long bonds, by Treasury bill purchases, by repos or, most important, by increasing the amounts of USA dollar swaps available to the central banks of Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong", Hanke and Greenwood wrote.

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The primary tools of central banks - lower interest rates and easier access to credit - aren't well-suited to address a crisis caused by a pandemic that has frightened consumers away from traveling, shopping or gathering in group settings. "It brings us in line with other countries." he said, referring the Fed cutting rates to near zero in a historic move in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Fed is also making notable changes to the maturities of the Treasury securities it purchases monthly to increase reserves.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond rose Friday to 0.9%, its highest level since March 5.

"The Fed cannot combat a public health crisis but they can provide a helpful hand when the crisis abates", said Neil Dutta, head of US economic research at Renaissance Macro Research LLC.

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The Treasury has set a P420-billion local borrowing program this quarter, broken down into P240 billion in T-bills and P180 billion via T-bonds.

"An ambitious and coordinated fiscal policy response is required to support businesses and workers at risk", European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Thursday in Frankfurt.

The Fed has cut rates to a target range of 0% to 0.25%, and said it would it begin buying bonds - quantitative easing - a move that pumps money directly into the economy.

The President has been a staunch critic of its reluctance to cut rates in recent months. Over the weekend, the US extended its travel ban to more countries and cases continued to surge in Europe, while airlines continue to take drastic measures to weather the collapse in travel.

Trump's speech to the nation on Wednesday contained few details on fiscal stimulus measures, but his imposition of restrictions on travel from Europe to the US deepened the sense of alarm. She repeatedly pleaded for governments to pitch in with economic support, by spending more or giving companies and families tax relief.

Authorities are putting major economies, businesses and travel on lock down around the world - slamming the prospect for the global economy.

Europe's top monetary authority did not cut rates as investors expected, evidence that monetary policy is running out of ammunition at already very low rates. The ECB's key policy rate on bank deposits is already at an unprecedented minus 0.6 percent.