The Federal Reserve (Fed) on Sunday, March 15, decided to drop interest rates to essentially zero and restart a quantitative easing program from Monday in an emergency move to aid the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Accordingly, Fed will lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 0% to 0.25% from a previous range of 1% to 1.25%, effective on March 16.
The decision is the most dramatic measure to support the economy since the 2008 financial crisis, as Fed said the coronavirus has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States.
Fed will also launch a new round of bond purchases, or quantitative easing (QE), to help cushion the possible impacts from the coronavirus on the economy.
The central bank will increase its holdings of Treasurys securities by at least $500 billion and of government mortgage-backed securities by at least $200 billion over the coming months.
“Global financial conditions have also been significantly affected. Available economic data show that the U.S. economy came into this challenging period on a strong footing,” the Fed said in a statement on Sunday.
“The Federal Reserve 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,” it said.
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.”
President Donald Trump on Sunday praised the Fed for its bold action.
“It makes me very happy and I want to congratulate the Federal Reserve,” he said. “That’s a big step and I’m very happy they did it.”
“That’s really great for our country. It’s something that we’re very happy, I have to say this, I’m very happy,” President Trump said. “And they did it in one step, they didn’t do it in four steps over a long period of time. They did it in one step and I think that people in the market should be very thrilled.”
The last time the Fed cut rates so low was during the global financial crisis just more than a decade ago.