From the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) policy statement earlier today:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January indicates that the economy continues to contract. Job losses, declining equity and housing wealth, and tight credit conditions have weighed on consumer sentiment and spending. Weaker sales prospects and difficulties in obtaining credit have led businesses to cut back on inventories and fixed investment. U.S. exports have slumped as a number of major trading partners have also fallen into recession. Although the near-term economic outlook is weak, the Committee anticipates that policy actions to stabilize financial markets and institutions, together with fiscal and monetary stimulus, will contribute to a gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth.
In light of increasing economic slack here and abroad, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued. Moreover, the Committee sees some risk that inflation could persist for a time below rates that best foster economic growth and price stability in the longer term.
In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability. The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and anticipates that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.
It goes on to state that its goal is to bring long term rates down farther by buying “up to an additional $750 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities”, “$300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months” and “agency debt this year by up to $100 billion”. The Fed is aggressively using its balance sheet to inject liquidity into the financial system since the already low fed funds rate target is technically as low as it can get now. The Fed is hinting that we may be looking at the recession’s trough soon. Given the release of today’s 1st Quarter GDP, we can only hope and pray.
From Market Watch:
The central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee said that spending has stabilized and that the pace of the downturn appeared to be somewhat slower. The economy could remain weak in coming month but policy actions and “market forces” were aligned to create a gradual upturn, the statement said.
Fed watchers saw little drama in today’s announcement.
“The only major difference between today’s statement and the previous one on March 18 is that today’s cited the fact that most evidence points to a slowing rate of economic decline. Anyone with two eyes and a brain knows this to be the case,” wrote Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc. in a note to clients.
Economists had expected the policy-setting panel to maintain the status quo. The FOMC kept its target interest rate unchanged at an ultra-low 0%-to-0.25% range.
The economy has fared dismally over the past six months — collapsing by the sharpest rate in more than 50 years. The unemployment rate has spiked and business investment has slowed.