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Jerome Powell. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday it would intervene in a key market used by cash-strapped businesses for the first time since the financial crisis — a move intended to help corporations hurt by the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: This market froze up in recent weeks, limiting businesses' ability to borrow at a time when the halt in economic activity is weighing on American corporations. It's the latest in a series of moves by the Fed to step in and ease that pain.

What they're saying: The Fed is providing a backstop for the so-called commercial paper market, which is looked to for financing "a wide range of economic activity, supplying credit and funding for auto loans and mortgages as well as liquidity to meet the operational needs of a range of companies," the Fed notes.

  • "[I]f you don’t get this short-term borrowing, you can’t get payments out, you can’t pay your employees, you can’t pay your customers,” Randy Kroszner, a former Fed official, told CNBC.

How it works: The Treasury Department, which had to approve the action, fronted $10 billion in credit protection to the Federal Reserve in connection with the program.

  • To unfreeze the market, the Fed said it would lend to commercial paper issuers at a rate of 2 percentage points above overnight lending rates.

The big picture: The Fed's action comes on the heels of the central bank lowering interest rates to near zero, flooding short-term funding markets with liquidity, and stepping up purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities — all in the name of fighting the economic harm that the coronavirus has brought.

  • The Fed also announced Tuesday night that it would restart yet another financial crisis-era measure to support credit markets. In exchange for broad types of collateral, the Fed will give short-term loans to financial institutions that buy a range of things, including corporate debt.

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
54 mins ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”