Citing a more modest outlook for the economy, the Federal Reserve (Fed) on Wednesday (March 20) held interest rates steady and signaled it did not plan to raise rates at all this year and would bump them up just once in 2020, providing a road map for a sustained period of easy-money policy.
“The U.S. economy is in a good place,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference, adding policymakers foresee “a modest slowdown, with overall conditions remaining favorable. We see no need to rush to judgement (by lifting or cutting rates).”
USA Today reported that the move comes after the central bank repeatedly has telegraphed its plan to scale back rate hikes in 2019 in the face of a U.S. and global economic slowdown, and markets that have shown no tolerance for higher borrowing costs in that environment.
But the two-day meeting that concluded Wednesday provided the Fed its first opportunity to trim its fairly upbeat December forecasts for the economy and rates. The Fed also announced that it will end a campaign to shrink its $3.8 trillion balance sheet later this year, a move that should help keep a lid on long-term rates.
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