Fed says policy providing ‘powerful support’ to U.S. economy

Bonds

Federal Reserve actions will continue to bolster the U.S. economy as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic, the central bank said Friday in its twice-yearly update to Congress.

“Monetary policy will continue to deliver powerful support to the economy until the recovery is complete,” the Fed said. The report was published on its website ahead of Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services panel a day later.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

Bloomberg News

Fed officials have signaled they will hold interest rates near zero at least through 2023 and last month repeated they would keep buying bonds at a monthly pace of $120 billion until “significant further progress” had been made on employment and inflation.

The Fed noted that job losses in the pandemic have fallen disproportionately on low-income workers, those without a college degree, Americans of color and mothers. These hard-hit groups also still have the most ground left to make up as economic activity remains suppressed.

Americans managed to save even during the crisis, bringing the aggregate savings rate to more than 13% in the fourth quarter of 2020 — almost double its level from the previous year — bolstered by government stimulus. But policy makers said this high level doesn’t show the complete picture.

“These aggregate figures mask important variation across households, and many low-income households, especially those whose earnings declined as a result of the pandemic and recession, have seen their finances stretched,” the Fed noted in the report.

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