This week we have seen the US Federal Reserve offer unlimited quantitative policy, along with various other bells and whistles. This is to keep the wheels of monetary policy lubricated; to encourage lending to companies by banks, and in turn this may save some jobs. It may also help to stabilise the markets, which would give enough breathing space to allow fiscal policy to be rolled out.
This is what we are seeing in the US. The Senate has now agreed a fiscal package worth over 9% of GDP and the buck is passed to The House of Representatives who will vote tomorrow on the $2 trillion deal. Co-ordination across the globe has been key and we have seen the European Central Bank announce today their unlimited commitment to asset purchases. In the UK, the Government continues to roll out more details about the £350 billion relief package.
All of this is about avoiding job losses. The more people that are unemployed means the less they are going to consume. If consumption drops, it will delay the second phase of the fiscal policy rescue package, which is the economic bounce-back.
In the US a quarter of the deal will focus on loans to businesses, to support them during this period and hopefully avoid an unnecessary increase in unemployment. President Trump is also riding to the rescue, with the possibility of a further tax cut through the suspension of trade tariffs for 90 days, which should alleviate pressure on some companies’ profit margins.
Apply. Rinse. Repeat. The same instructions that were given for the quantitative easing programme to combat the great financial crisis are being repeated for the great virus crisis. Only this time the measures being enacted are more dramatic; projections for the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is a surge of more than $3 trillion. This will equate to an expansion of roughly 75% and is comparative to the entire stimulus injected over a decade since the global financial crisis. It is likely the current level of policy stimulus will not need to remain in place for as long as it did for the previous crisis. However, it is needed now as it was 12 years ago to prevent a global depression.