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May 21, 2020

Key Takeaways from President Williams’s Speech on the Economy in the Time of Coronavirus

On Thursday, May 21, New York Fed President John Williams spoke to three Chambers of Commerce in Upstate New York about the U.S. economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said:

“The cause of this recession — a global pandemic — means that our economic future will be determined in large part by the path of the virus.”

“Despite this extraordinary uncertainty, at the Federal Reserve we worked quickly to put measures in place to support the economy and set the foundation for a strong recovery.”

“Working alongside our colleagues in the Federal Reserve and other agencies, we are taking rapid and significant actions to supply liquidity and to stabilize critical parts of our financial system.”

In his speech on the economic effects of the pandemic, President Williams said the coronavirus meant “governments around the world have had to take the extraordinary action of shutting their economies down.” Turning to the U.S., he said, “the unemployment rate now stands at a staggering 14.7 percent.” He also noted: “It’s likely that the latest numbers do not reveal the full extent of the financial devastation faced by millions of American families. The data don’t capture those who had to leave their jobs, either for their own health or to take care of loved ones.”

Turning to the regional economy, he highlighted that, “One of the particular strengths of New York State is its diversity.” “In Western and Central New York there are top-tier universities, manufacturing businesses, a thriving professional services industry, as well as popular tourist destinations,” he said. Discussing future recovery, President Williams explained, “What we don’t know is what the shape or timescale of the recovery will be.” And that it will be some time before we “get a better understanding of how different industries are affected.”

Finally, President Williams laid out the Federal Reserve System’s response to the economic challenges posed by the pandemic, including the decision to bring the target range for the federal funds rate to near zero. “The FOMC has indicated that it expects to keep interest rates at this level until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals,” he said.

Read the full speech.

This article was originally published by the New York Fed on Medium.

The views expressed in this article are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.


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