Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

While President Trump has waffled on coronavirus and the Senate and House of Representatives have bickered over how best to deploy a fiscal response, the Federal Reserve has unleashed an onslaught of monetary policy power.

What happened: Having fired the full arsenal it deployed during the 2007–2009 global financial crisis in a matter of weeks, the Fed has committed to trillions in buying. And, it now promises unlimited purchases of U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities as well as municipal and corporate bond buys.

Why it matters: Central banks had surpassed the traditional confines of monetary policy long before the virus outbreak.

  • The Fed's already unprecedented action is far from finished and the world will now get to see just how much central banks can do to help the economy.

Where it stands: "The Fed knows they need to be aggressive, need to be creative and need to do everything in their power to keep the economy going through this really difficult time," Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America, tells Axios.

  • Meyer points out that even with the Fed's balance sheet at a record $4.7 trillion as of March 18, that is still less than 25% of U.S. GDP. The Bank of Japan, by contrast, holds assets worth more than 100% of the country's GDP on its balance sheet, including corporate bonds and ETFs.
  • "So there’s capacity to buy," she adds.

The big picture: Having already stepped in for the country's politicians, the Fed on Monday greenlit vehicles to provide aid to employers, municipalities and households, and is expected to soon announce a Main Street Business Lending Program for small and medium-sized businesses.

  • "This is another essential step forward in providing a floor for risk markets but, unfortunately, it is not sufficient,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, says in a note to clients.

Reality check: "The Fed is acting as the plumber," Oxford Economics' chief U.S. economist Gregory Daco tells Axios. "It’s ensuring the pipes don’t burst, but there is little it can do to control the water pressure."

Go deeper: Coronavirus has left us with nothing good to say about the economy

Go deeper

Fortune 100 companies commit $3.3 billion to fight racism and inequality

Data: Fortune 500, Axios analysis of company statements, get the data; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Big businesses continue to push funding toward fighting inequality and racism, with the 100 largest U.S. companies' monetary commitments rising to $3.33 billion since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police earlier this year, according to an Axios analysis.

Why it matters: The continued pace of funding commitments shows that months after Floyd's death there remains pressure for the wealthiest corporations to put their money behind social issues and efforts.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
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Lakers vs. Heat for the NBA's bubble title

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Six years after the "Big Three" broke up, the Heat are back in the NBA Finals, where they will face the Lakers and LeBron James, the man who brought them to four straight last decade.

The state of play: For the first time in NBA history, both finalists didn't make the playoffs in the prior season.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 a.m. ET: 33,125,652 — Total deaths: 998,074 — Total recoveries: 22,935,226Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 a.m. ET: 7,115,338 — Total deaths: 204,758 — Total recoveries: 2,766,280 — Total tests: 101,298,794Map.
  3. States: 3 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week
  4. Health: The childless vaccine. The long-term pain of the mental health pandemic
  5. World: India the second country after U.S. to hit 6 million cases