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

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.
3 hours ago - World

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.