Fed Chief: 'We May Well Be in a Recession'

3 2020 US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a press briefing after the announcement that the Reserve will cut interest rates

Fed's Powell says US may be in recession, control of virus to dictate timing of economy reopening

"The virus is going to dictate the timetable here", Mr. Powell said in a rare television interview, on NBC's "Today" show Thursday morning. "That doesn't happen", Mr. Powell said.

Still, the Fed chair said the economy's path is largely dependent on the length and severity of the viral outbreak.

"We know that economic activity will decline, probably substantially, in the second quarter, but I think many expect and I would expect economic activity to resume and move back up the second half of the year", he said. It will really depend on the spread of the virus.

The Federal Reserve boss's emphasis on the virus being controlled before economic activity could resume appeared to diverge from President Donald Trump's goal to have American "opened up and raring to go" by Easter.

'When the economy begins to rebound, then we'll be there to make sure that rebound is as strong as possible'.

"At a certain point we will get the spread of the virus under control and at that time confidence will return", Powell mentioned, predicting "a good rebound" as soon as the well being emergency is over.

To do its part, the Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented action to bolster the United States economy and smooth markets amid the outbreak.

It comes after the Fed took numerous bold and unprecedented steps this month to bolster lending and the economy.

The Fed has slashed its benchmark rate to zero and unveiled a series of programs to boost lending.

The look on the preferred morning display as many Americans are caught in their houses marks the Fed leader's first public remarks since he held an odd Sunday night press briefing by means of teleconference on March 15 to announce the central bank had slashed rates of interest to almost 0. He said the Fed can lend $10 for every $1 of cash that the Treasury provides.

He acknowledged that the economy will see a sharp downturn but the Fed aims to ensure recovery by providing credit to businesses and households, and "we will keep doing that aggressively".

Asked if there was any limit to the money the Federal Reserve was willing to pump into the American economy, Powell said: "In certain circumstances like the present, we do have the ability to essentially use our emergency lending authorities, and the only limit on that will be how much backstop we get from the Treasury Department". We don't let anything else get into our thinking'.

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