By Nick Timiraos
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy "may well be in a recession," but that the central bank is taking unprecedented action to help ensure economic activity can resume as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is under control.
"The virus is going to dictate the timetable here," Mr. Powell said in a rare television interview, on NBC's "Today" show Thursday morning.
Mr. Powell said the Fed's job now is to make sure businesses of all sizes can have a "bridge" of support, including through emergency lending programs the Fed has been rolling out, so that the economy can recover faster.
"When it comes to this lending, we're not going to run out of ammunition. That doesn't happen," Mr. Powell said.
The Fed has slashed its benchmark rate to zero and unveiled a series of programs to boost lending. By Friday, it will have also purchased nearly $1 trillion in Treasury and mortgage securities over the past two weeks.
The Trump administration and Congress agreed Wednesday to provide $454 billion in additional funds for the Treasury to bulk up existing or new Fed lending facilities, including programs to support small-business lending and shore up financing markets for state and local governments.
Fed officials are trying to prevent firms from losing access to funding, which could then snowball, turning what is shaping up to be a severe, synchronized global recession into a full-bore depression.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 26, 2020 07:54 ET (11:54 GMT)
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