The United States Federal Reserve has predicted that interest rates will remain close to zero until the end of 2022 at the earliest and that unemployment levels will take years to return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
All but two Fed officials predicted the main interest rate would remain close to zero through 2022, with chairman Jay Powell adding: "We are not thinking about raising rates. We are not even thinking about thinking about raising rates."
The US central bank reaffirmed its commitment to "using its full range of tools to support the US economy" and would leave rates unchanged until it was "confident that the economy has weathered recent events."
We are not thinking about raising rates. We are not even thinking about thinking about raising rates."
In its first economic projections since last December, it predicted the US economy to contract by 6.5% over the course of 2020 and to see unemployment fall to 9.3%
The Fed guaranteed that it would purchase a minimum of $80bn in treasuries each month along with at least $40bn of mortgage backed-securities. It is currently purchasing an average $20bn of treasuries a week.
Ronald Temple, head of US equity at Lazard Asset Management, said: The FOMC release today tells us three things: 1. You can drive a truck through the economic forecasts, as even the Fed has little visibility in terms of how the Covid-19 crisis will unfold. 2. Regardless of the outlook, almost every member expects rates to remain at 0-25bps through the end of 2022. 3. At least one of the members is extremely optimistic with an unemployment forecast of 7% at the end of 2020 and 4.5% at the end of 2021.
"All told," he said, "the message is on target in that policy will remain accommodative for the foreseeable future."