May 18, 2020 - Economy & Business

Fed chair: "There's no limit" to coronavirus stimulus response

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Ahead of his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell previewed what Americans can expect in the coming months from policymakers: a whole lot more.

What it means: Powell has been adamant that the Fed has not run out of ammunition, even after adding more than $2.5 trillion to the central bank's balance sheet — more than half its pre-2020 total — in just the past two months.

What he said: "There's really no limit to what we can do with these lending programs that we have."

  • "So there's a lot more we can do to support the economy, and we're committed to doing everything we can as long as we need to."
  • Powell also called on Congress to do more, asserting again that it was necessary for fiscal spending to increase after a similarly straightforward call during an interview with the Peterson Institute for International Economics last week.

The state of play: Powell, a Republican who has spoken out about the unsustainable nature of the U.S. national debt, also took aim at deficit hawks who have balked at the cost of more spending.

  • "The U.S. has been spending more than it's been taking in for some time. And that's something we're going to have to deal with. The time to deal with that ... is when the economy is strong."
  • "When unemployment is low, when economic activity is high, that's when you deal with that problem. This is not the time to prioritize that concern."

Why it matters: Powell's comments are the latest evidence that he expects the coronavirus pandemic to cause serious and potentially long-term damage to the U.S. economy and expects much more than $2.5 trillion from the Fed will be needed to hold up financial markets.

  • The audiences for his recent overtures — the politically well-connected PIIE and now the active voters who watch "60 Minutes" — suggest he is working to create a similar sentiment among policymakers in Washington.

Go deeper: Fed chair warns U.S. economy may not "fully recover" until there's a vaccine

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,919,364— Total deaths: 364,459 — Total recoveries — 2,490,221Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,745,606 — Total deaths: 102,798 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  6. 1 sports thing: NCAA outlines plan to get athletes back to campus.

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