The Associated Press
The Federal Reserve has taken many unprecedented steps in the past three years to try to boost the economy and counter the effects of a financial crisis that triggered a painful recession. It's kept the short-term interest rate it controls at a record low near zero since December 2008.
And it's bought about $2 trillion in U.S. Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities to try to hold down longer-term rates. That's caused the Fed's portfolio of securities to balloon to nearly $2.9 trillion, from less than $1 trillion in 2007.
Some steps the Fed has taken:
— 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.
— Jan. 27-28-2009: The central bank signals it's prepared to buy longer-term Treasuries and expand other programs.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— Aug. 27, 2010: In a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Chairman Ben Bernanke lists several options to boost the economy, including the purchase of additional government bonds.