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Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Fed's meeting this week will carry extra significance after the European Central Bank all but promised it would further ease monetary policy this month, likely by cutting its already negative interest rates on deposits and adding to its already substantial quantitative easing program.

Why it matters: Whether or not the Fed chooses to expand its QE program, as governors have hinted at in recent weeks, will have an impact on every asset as the Fed's decision not to add to its current slate of stimulative policies is becoming increasingly uncommon among global central banks.

Watch this space: ECB president Christine Lagarde referred to the “recalibration” of the ECB’s policy 20 times in her one-hour press conference, suggesting that the central bank could take even more unconventional steps to help stimulate the region's economy as it faces a second wave of coronavirus infections.

  • Policymakers at the Bank of Canada took the action many expected the Fed to take at its most recent policy meeting, shifting bond purchases through its QE program to longer-dated maturities.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia signaled that it plans to cut record-low interest rates again at its November meeting and add to its QE program.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

Economic growth is slowly returning

Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Fed's index of real-time data indicators shows the reversal of the economy's progress in late December and early January, but it moved upwards again last week.

Driving the news: Central bankers said the index's rise for the week of Jan. 9 was due to increases in tax withholding, fuel sales and rail traffic, which countered disappointing numbers for initial unemployment insurance claims and a decrease in electricity output.

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

1 hour ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."

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