Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Powell at a congressional hearing in September. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said on Thursday the pandemic-hit economy will recover at a slower pace absent additional stimulus from Congress.

Why it matters: With Congress still gridlocked over another stimulus package — and pending results of the presidential election that put the timing of another package more in limbo — the Fed is facing questions about what more it can do to prevent the economy from backsliding as coronavirus cases surge.

What they're saying: "Fiscal policy can do what we can't, which is to replace lost incomes for people who are out of work," Powell told reporters in response to a question about whether the delay of congressional stimulus will force the Fed to do more.

  • Powell also said that "we'll have a stronger [economic] recovery if we can just get at least some more fiscal support" — but stopped short of saying how much support is necessary.
  • Powell reiterated that the Fed is not out of ammo — but its policies are a mismatch for the demands of the crisis. "We have no doubt in the power of the things that we've already done, or the things that we may or may do in the future," Powell said.

Details: Powell said the Fed for now would continue to purchase at least $120 billion worth of government bonds per month, although disruptions in financial markets that prompted the buying have eased.

  • The bond-buying program is "another very important piece of the accommodative policy stance that we have," Powell said.

Where it stands: In the policy statement released ahead of the news conference, the Fed said, "economic activity and employment have continued to recover but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year."

  • Powell noted the rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe as "particularly concerning."

Catch up quick: Earlier this year, the Fed launched a slew of programs, backstopped by the Treasury Department, in an attempt to stimulate the economy and shore up key funding markets that were shaken when the virus took hold.

  • There's been little demand from state and local entities for a lending facility geared to them, as well as muted uptake for a program meant to lend to small and mid-sized businesses. (The Fed broadened eligibility for its so-called "Main Street Lending Program" last week.)
  • Powell says the Fed has not decided whether these facilities will be extended beyond their expiration at the end of the year.

Of note: Powell said the election "comes up now and again but is not at all a central focus" of the Fed's policy meeting. He wouldn't comment on the possibility of a contested election and whether it could have an impact on the economy.

  • "I'm very reluctant, as you will imagine, to comment on the election directly, indirectly at all, other than just to say that it's a good time to take a step back and let the institutions of our democracy do their jobs," Powell said.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.