Fed cuts the funds rate by 50 bps to 1%; More swap lines opened
"The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to lower its target for the federal funds rate 50 basis points to 1 percent.
"The pace of economic activity appears to have slowed markedly, owing importantly to a decline in consumer expenditures. Business equipment spending and industrial production have weakened in recent months, and slowing economic activity in many foreign economies is damping the prospects for U.S. exports. Moreover, the intensification of financial market turmoil is likely to exert additional restraint on spending, partly by further reducing the ability of households and businesses to obtain credit.
"In light of the declines in the prices of energy and other commodities and the weaker prospects for economic activity, the Committee expects inflation to moderate in coming quarters to levels consistent with price stability.
"Recent policy actions, including today’s rate reduction, coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks, extraordinary liquidity measures, and official steps to strengthen financial systems, should help over time to improve credit conditions and promote a return to moderate economic growth. Nevertheless, downside risks to growth remain. The Committee will monitor economic and financial developments carefully and will act as needed to promote sustainable economic growth and price stability.
"Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; Timothy F. Geithner, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Richard W. Fisher; Donald L. Kohn; Randall S. Kroszner; Sandra Pianalto; Charles I. Plosser; Gary H. Stern; and Kevin M. Warsh.
"In a related action, the Board of Governors unanimously approved a 50-basis-point decrease in the discount rate to 1-1/4 percent. In taking this action, the Board approved the requests submitted by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, New York, Cleveland, and San Francisco."
UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Fed is giving several emerging market economies access to dollars via ANOTHER $120 billion in swap lines. The announcement of this additional action follows:
"Today, the Federal Reserve, the Banco Central do Brasil, the Banco de Mexico, the Bank of Korea, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore are announcing the establishment of temporary reciprocal currency arrangements (swap lines). These facilities, like those already established with other central banks, are designed to help improve liquidity conditions in global financial markets and to mitigate the spread of difficulties in obtaining U.S. dollar funding in fundamentally sound and well managed economies.
"In response to the heightened stress associated with the global financial turmoil, which has broadened to emerging market economies, the Federal Reserve has authorized the establishment of temporary liquidity swap facilities with the central banks of these four large and systemically important economies. These new facilities will support the provision of U.S. dollar liquidity in amounts of up to $30 billion each by the Banco Central do Brasil, the Banco de Mexico, the Bank of Korea, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
"These reciprocal currency arrangements have been authorized through April 30, 2009.
"The FOMC previously authorized temporary reciprocal currency arrangements with ten other central banks: the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Bank of Canada, Danmarks Nationalbank, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Norges Bank, the Sveriges Riksbank, and the Swiss National Bank.
"Separately, the Federal Reserve welcomes the announcement today by the International Monetary Fund of the establishment of the Short-Term Liquidity Facility, which is designed to help member countries that are facing temporary liquidity problems in the global capital markets. The Federal Reserve is supportive of the IMF's role in helping countries address and resolve their ongoing economic and financial difficulties."