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Politics & Money

Fed pledges to maintain current pace of MBS purchases

“We’re not even thinking about thinking about raising rates,” Powell tells reporters

The Federal Reserve pledged on Wednesday to keep buying Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to the tune of about $120 billion a month.

There had been concern among economists about the Fed’s announcement at the end of April that it was slowing the pace of purchases after concluding that its bond-market rescue worked. The Fed’s presence in the bond markets, an emergency measure to support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeps credit flowing and puts downward pressure on mortgage rates.

“To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, over coming months the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning,” the Fed’s rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement.

Currently, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which executes market orders for the central bank, is buying about $80 billion in Treasuries and about $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities a month, it said in a separate release.

The central bank also projected interest rates will remain near zero through 2022 to support the U.S. economy while it struggles through a recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re not even thinking about thinking about raising rates,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters during a press conference after the meeting.

The Fed’s balance sheet has exceeded $7 trillion because of emergency programs aimed at supporting the economy.

“The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the FOMC said in its statement. “The Committee will closely monitor developments and is prepared to adjust its plans as appropriate.”

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