Fed Plans to Inject Another $1 Trillion to Aid the Economy
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
Published: March 18, 2009
WASHINGTON ó The Federal Reserve sharply stepped up its efforts to bolster the economy on Wednesday, announcing that it would pump an extra $1 trillion into the financial system by purchasing Treasury bonds and mortgage securities.
Having already reduced the key interest rate it controls nearly to zero, the central bank has increasingly turned to alternatives like buying securities as a way of getting more dollars into the economy, a tactic that amounts to creating vast new sums of money out of thin air
. But the moves on Wednesday were its biggest yet, almost doubling all of the Fedís measures in the last year.
The action makes the Fed a buyer of long-term government bonds rather than the short-term debt that it typically buys and sells to help control the money supply.
The idea was to encourage more economic activity by lowering interest rates, including those on home loans, and to help the financial system as it struggles under the crushing weight of bad loans and poor investments.
Investors responded with surprise and enthusiasm. The Dow Jones industrial average, which had been down about 50 points just before the announcement, jumped immediately and ended the day up almost 91 points at 7,486.58. Yields on long-term Treasury bonds dropped markedly, and analysts predicted that interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages would soon drop below 5 percent.
But there were also clear indications that the Fed was taking risks that could dilute the value of the dollar and set the stage for future inflation. Gold prices rose $26.60 an ounce, hitting $942, a sign of declining confidence in the dollar. The dollar, which had been losing value in recent weeks to the euro and the yen, dropped sharply again on Wednesday.
In its announcement, the central bank said that the United States remained in a severe recession and listed its continuing woes, from job losses and lost housing wealth to falling exports as a result of the worldwide economic slowdown.