The US Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low near zero and signalled its readiness to do more if needed to support an economy under threat from a worsening coronavirus pandemic.
The Fed announced no new actions after its latest policy meeting but left the door open to provide further assistance in the coming months.
Chair Jerome Powell again pledged to use the central bank’s “powerful tools … to support the economy during this difficult time for as long as needed.” The economy in recent weeks has weakened after mounting a tentative recovery from the deep pandemic recession in early spring.
Several Fed officials have expressed concern that Congress has failed so far to provide further aid for struggling individuals and businesses. But the Fed’s policy statement, issued after a two-day meeting, made no mention of lawmakers’ failure to act.
A multi-trillion-dollar stimulus, enacted in the spring, had helped sustain jobless Americans and ailing businesses but has since expired. The failure of lawmakers to agree on any new rescue package has clouded the future for the unemployed, for small businesses and for the economy as a whole. There is some hope, though, that a logjam can be broken and more economic relief can be enacted during a post-election “lame-duck” session of Congress between now and early January.