Last week the Federal Reserve announced it will keep interest rates at or near zero until the economy recovers from the government-imposed shutdown. Following this announcement, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress and the Trump administration to put aside any concerns about the deficit and spend whatever it takes to stimulate the economy and combat coronavirus.
The Federal Reserve previously announced it would make unlimited purchases of Treasury securities, thus encouraging Congress and the president to increase spending and debt. With some members of Congress talking about another multi-trillion-dollar stimulus bill, and with President Trump proposing a two trillion dollars infrastructure plan as a way to get Americans back to work, it is obvious, and not surprising, that Congress and President Trump gleefully agree with Powell’s advice.
Increasing the purchase of federal debt is not the only action the Fed has taken in a desperate attempt to keep the economy afloat. Since the coronavirus lockdowns began in early March, the Fed has greatly expanded its balance sheet. The Federal Reserve has also launched an unprecedented program to “loan” money directly to businesses.