Federal Reserve Unveils 'Extensive New Measures' To Bolster U.S. Economy

The Federal Reserve says
The Federal Reserve says "it has become clear that our economy will face severe disruptions" because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here, Chairman Jerome Powell is seen as the Fed cut interest rates earlier this month.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The Federal Reserve says it will buy bonds and mortgage-backed securities "in the amounts needed" to keep markets working smoothly, unveiling a plan that also includes measures to make sure credit is available to businesses and consumers.

"While great uncertainty remains, it has become clear that our economy will face severe disruptions," the Federal Reserve said as it revealed the plans. "Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate."

The open-ended plans escalate an earlier emergency move that called for the Federal Open Market Committee to buy at least $500 billion in Treasury securities and at least $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

The move by the central banking system lifted Dow Jones Industrial Average futures, but the index still stumbled by roughly 3% in early trading, sinking below the 19,000 mark within the first 10 minutes.

The Federal Reserve also said it "expects to announce soon the establishment of a Main Street Business Lending Program to support lending to eligible small-and-medium sized businesses, complementing efforts by the [Small Business Administration].

The Fed is taking action as the Senate struggles to reach an agreement on a massive aid package for U.S. businesses and taxpayers. That trillion-dollar legislation failed a procedural vote on Sunday. A new vote is scheduled for noon ET on Monday.

Seven U.S. states are now reporting 1,000 or more cases of COVID-19, and experts believe the number of infected people will rise further as testing becomes more available and efficient.

The coronavirus pandemic has also directly affected how the New York Stock Exchange operates: For the first time in its history, the market shifted to all-electronic trading on Monday, closing its floor to protect people who work there.

"Our markets are fully capable of operating in an all-electronic fashion to serve all participants, and we will proceed in that manner until we can re-open our trading floors to our members," NYSE President Stacey Cunningham said as she announced the closure in a statement last Wednesday.

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