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Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Fed chair Jerome Powell's statement on Friday afternoon that the U.S. central bank was "closely monitoring developments" and would "act as appropriate to support the economy" has eliminated any doubt that the Fed will cut U.S. interest rates at its meeting on March 17–18.

What we're hearing: "A Fed cut in March appears nearly certain," analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a late Sunday note to clients.

  • Goldman is now expecting a 50-basis-point cut this month, followed by two more rate cuts "in April and June, for a total of 100bp."

Where it stands: U.S. interest rates are currently set at 1.50%–1.75%, and cuts at that level would take them to 0.5%, giving the U.S. negative "real" rates — well below the level of inflation, according to the personal consumption expenditures measure the Fed favors.

  • Fed funds futures prices show the market expects the Fed to cut 100 basis points by July, with rates falling to 0.25% by December.

What's happening: Speculation that the rate cuts are on the way helped pare losses in U.S. stock market futures prices, as did comments from Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda who said the central bank would provide “ample liquidity and ensure stability in financial markets through appropriate market operations and asset purchases.”

  • The BOJ followed up the statement by offering to buy $4.6 billion of government bonds with a repurchase agreement.

The big picture: Guggenheim Partners global CIO Scott Minerd, a member of the New York Fed's investor advisory committee, said last week that he had been contacted by officials and was expecting a statement regarding "some sort of monetary coordination."

  • That would likely mean the world's central banks are planning interest rate cuts or additional stimulus.

Worth noting: The Fed cut rates three times in 2019 and has added nearly $400 billion to its balance sheet through a new bond-buying program it began after the repo market spike in September.

Go deeper: Federal Reserve: Coronavirus poses "evolving risk" to the economy

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.