Fed Chair Powell Vows 'Forceful, Proactive and Aggressive' Action to Support U.S. Economy

Powell said the Fed must do "everything we can to provide relief to those who are suffering for the public good" following $2.3 trillion 'Main Street' rescue launch.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the central bank should do "everything we can" to support the economy, and the public good, amid the escalating coronavirus crisis.

In prepared remarks for a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Powell said the Fed would "forcefully, proactively and aggressively" use its powers to fulfill it mandate as the economy suffers, but noted there is "every reason to believe the recovery will be robust".

"We entered this turbulent period on a strong economic footing, and that should help support the recovery," Powell said. "In the meantime, we are using our tools to help build a bridge from the solid economic foundation on which we entered this crisis to a position of regained economic strength on the other side."

Powell's speech followed the launch of an unprecedented 'Main Street' funding support plan Thursday that will pump more than $2.3 trillion into the U.S. economy as it continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Fed said it will use $75 billion in Treasury capital to purchase up to $600 billion in small and mid-sized business loans, and lend around $500 billion to states and cities around the country. 

The four-year loans will focus on companies with 10,000 employees or less, the Fed said, and will compliment the central bank's previous announcement of its intention to purchase municipal bonds.  The Fed will also extend facilities to support credit markets by another $850 billion, the central bank said.

"The recently passed Cares Act is an important step in honoring that commitment, providing $2.2 trillion in relief to those who have lost their jobs, to low- and middle-income households, to employers of all sizes, to hospitals and health-care providers, and to state and local governments," Powell said. "And there are reports of additional legislation in the works." 

"The critical task of delivering financial support directly to those most affected falls to elected officials, who use their powers of taxation and spending to make decisions about where we, as a society, should direct our collective resources," he added.

The Fed move followed news that more than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Commerce Department said, taking the three-week tally to around 16 million as nearly all of the U.S. economy remains under some form of 'stay-at-home' lockdown amid the still-expanding outbreak.