By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The Federal Reserve has taken many unprecedented steps in the past four years to try to boost the U.S. economy and counter the effects of a financial crisis that triggered a painful recession. It has kept the short-term interest rate it controls at a record low near zero since December 2008.
It's bought more than $2 trillion in U.S. Treasurys and mortgage bonds to try to hold down longer-term rates. Those purchases have increased the Fed's balance sheet to more than $2.8 trillion.
Some steps the Fed has taken:â¿¿ Nov. 25, 2008: The Fed says it will buy $500 billion in mortgage bonds. â¿¿ Dec. 15-16, 2008: The Fed creates a target range for interest rates and cuts its key federal funds rate to between zero and 0.25 percent. That's a record low. The Fed vows to use all the tools it has to rescue the economy from the worst financial crisis and recession since the 1930s. â¿¿ Jan. 27-28-2009: The central bank signals it's prepared to buy longer-term Treasuries and expand other programs. â¿¿ March 17-18, 2009: The Fed says it will start buying up to $300 billion in government bonds over six months. It also decides to boost purchases of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities and debt. The actions are aimed at driving down rates on mortgages and other debt. â¿¿ Sept. 22-23, 2009: The Fed slows a mortgage-buying program to complete its purchases by March 31, 2010, instead of at the end of 2009. â¿¿ Aug. 10, 2010: It decides to use some money generated by its mortgage portfolio to buy government debt, to try to lower rates on mortgages and other loans. â¿¿ Aug. 27, 2010: In a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Chairman Ben Bernanke lists several options to boost the economy, including the purchase of additional government bonds.