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The Federal Reserve announced Sunday that it will drop interest rates to zero while purchasing at least $700 billion in government and mortgage bonds as part of its emergency program to shore up the US economy in the face of an economic halt caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Its announcement represented the strongest action since the 2008 financial crisis as the central bank sought to stabilize financial markets as businesses close down and the economy confronts a looming recession.

Led by chair Jerome H. Powell, the Fed cut its benchmark by a full percentage point to zero.

Aside from rate cuts, the Fed also announced the resumption of bond purchases known as “quantitative easing,” with the central bank buying hundreds of billions of dollar in bonds to lower interest rates and maintain liquidity. The Fed will also offer generous loans to commercial banks, enabling them to offer loans on easy terms to small businesses and families in need.

IMAGE: Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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