Navigating the unpredictable waters of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic continues to dominate conversations around the direction of the U.S. economy and subsequent recovery. After some relief during the late summer/early fall months of 2020, a new wave of coronavirus cases brought on another round of significant business disruptions heading into the holiday season.
While recent improvements in the U.S. economy are challenged by rising case counts and weary consumers, the outlook remains hopeful with the rollout of vaccine distribution. The Fed remains firm in its commitment to continue to support the U.S. economy from a monetary policy perspective with whatever tools necessary to keep markets functioning smoothly should financial conditions tighten.
At its final meeting of 2020, the central bank kept its benchmark rate at near-zero levels and made no major changes to its asset purchase program in the final policy announcement of the year. Another round of fiscal support for $900 billion was passed by Congress prior to the Christmas holiday to provide economic relief to pandemic-stricken households and businesses.