Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Federal Reserve, in conjunction with central banks around the world, took drastic action on Sunday night — the kind of action not seen since the global financial crisis — to try to prevent the novel coronavirus from devastating the economy.

What they did: The Fed slashed interest rates to near zero Sunday night, announced a $700 billion bond-buying program, and relaxed bank capital regulations to encourage further lending.

Why it matters: Thousands of businesses and millions of households are about to suffer extreme economic hardship. Employers and employees in the travel, entertainment, sports, hospitality, retail, and many other industries are going to see losses and layoffs for as long as COVID-19 is raging.

  • Once the pandemic is over, all of those businesses can and should come roaring back. In order to do so, they will require new loans to help them get through the bad times, as well as money to refinance existing debts as they come due.
  • Monetary policy can't fight the coronavirus directly. But it can help ease the economic pain that the virus causes.

The bottom line: The Fed is using every weapon in its arsenal to encourage banks to lend money freely at the lowest possible interest rates. If its actions work, it will prevent thousands of businesses, large and small, from failing.

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Trump says he doesn't know who Proud Boys are after telling them to "stand by"

President Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn't know who the "Proud Boys" are, after saying at the presidential debate last night that the far-right group should "stand back and stand by" in response to a question asking him to condemn white supremacists.

Why it matters: The comments set off outrage and calls for clarification from a number of Republican senators. After being asked several times on Wednesday whether he will condemn white supremacy, Trump responded: "I have always denounced any form — any form of any of that, you have to denounce. But I also — Joe Biden has to say something about antifa."

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 33,785,178 — Total deaths: 1,010,147 — Total recoveries: 23,448,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 7,210,067 — Total deaths: 206,494 — Total recoveries: 2,813,305 — Total tests: 103,155,189Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body.
  4. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  5. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Updated 42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Tim Scott says Trump "misspoke" when he told Proud Boys to "stand by"

Photo: Bonnie Cash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters on Wednesday that he believes President Trump "misspoke" when he told the far-right "Proud Boys" group to "stand back and stand by" in response to a question about condemning white supremacy at the first presidential debate.

Catch up quick: Moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump on Tuesday, "Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down?" Trump asked who specifically he should condemn, and then responded, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."