Explaining What The Federal Reserve Did In Plain English (March 18, 2009 Edition)

FOMC press release March 18 2009

The Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged today, within the target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.  This doesn’t mean the Fed stood pat, however.

On plan to resurrect the economy using “all available tools”, today, the Fed announced a new, $1.5 trillion round of fiscal support for the treasury and mortgage markets.

The stimulus will likely be Thursday morning’s headline story.

In its press release, the FOMC touched upon a few of the prevailing economic issues, using these points as a legitimizing backdrop for its newest debt load:

  • Job losses and wealth loss are dragging down consumer spending
  • Some U.S. trading partners are falling into recession
  • Businesses are cutting back on investment and inventory

Of interest is that the FOMC said today’s inflation levels may be too low to support economic growth at all.  This condition is more commonly called deflation.  The Fed’s latest actions, therefore, may be a deliberate attempt to induce inflation through unprecedented borrowing.

For home buyers and potential refinancers, this is terrific news — at least in the short-term.  By introducing new demand for mortgage bonds, the Fed will help pressure mortgage rates lower.  Already this afternoon, mortgage rates fell and they will continue to fall until the market reaches a new equlibrium.

After the Fed’s last intervention, markets reached their balance point in about a day-and-a-half.

Parsing the Fed Statement
The Wall Street Journal Online
March 18, 2009