Dow Jones (via Morningstar) reports that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is reassuring markets that the Federal Reserve will do whatever is appropriate in the face of the unfolding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting economic contagion:
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled Friday the central bank was prepared to cut interest rates to cushion the economy against the effects of a widening global slowdown and potential health emergency due to the spreading coronavirus.
While the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong, “the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity,” Mr. Powell said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook. We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.“
The article goes on to discuss the possibility that the Federal Reserve may move before their next scheduled meeting:
Fed officials face other tactical considerations. Cutting rates between meetings is rare and reserved for especially delicate moments. The Fed hasn’t adjusted rates between meetings since October 2008, during the zenith of the financial crisis.
After the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the Fed met twice by teleconference, on Sept. 13 and again on Sept. 17, when officials approved a half-percentage-point rate cut shortly before financial markets opened following a four-day closure.
Former Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh sees coordinated central bank support as a necessity giving the rapidly-spreading economic contagion. CNBC reports:
Former Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh said Friday he expects the Fed and other central banks around the world to act soon in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Warsh, occasionally rumored to be a candidate for Fed chairman after Jerome Powell’s term expires, spoke Friday morning to CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He recommended the Fed act as quickly as Sunday to assuage financial markets that have been in an aggressive swoon all week as the virus has spread.“This thing’s moving pretty darn quickly,” he said. “At the very least, a statement on Sunday night before Asian markets open would buy them a little time and let us all learn a little bit more about where things are.”
“They’ve got a knife. There’s a gunfight,” he said. “You might as well go find some friends that also have knives and see if you can’t to it together.”