- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2020

The Federal Reserve announced several new emergency measures on Monday to ease corporate credit and blunt the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The central bank unveiled a “primary market corporate credit facility” that would directly purchase eligible corporate bonds, plus a “secondary market corporate credit facility” that would buy corporate bonds in the secondary market.

“While great uncertainty remains, it has become clear that our economy will face severe disruptions,” the Fed said in a statement. “Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate.”

The central bank also called its third emergency meeting since the crisis began.

Markets were down on Monday despite the actions, as the Senate struggled to get Democratic support for a nearly $2 trillion economic relief plan for businesses and workers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 700 points before noon, or nearly 4%. The S&P 500 also was off nearly 4%, and the Nasdaq fell nearly 3%.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said the Fed’s actions will help businesses with their cash flow.

“We are committed to providing relief for American workers and businesses, particularly small and medium size businesses and critical industries that are most impacted by the coronavirus,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “We will take all necessary steps to support them and protect the U.S. economy.”

Amid these moves, calls were rising for President Trump to declare a nationwide shutdown of travel and commerce except for essential services.

The president suggested overnight that he was thinking about easing guidelines on restricting travel and business after the current 15-day period ends.

“We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” Mr. Trump tweeted shortly before midnight in all capital letters. “At the end of the 15 day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go!”

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