Fed’s Powell says full economic recovery may require coronavirus vaccine

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to reporters in Washington

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to reporters in Washington

US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says an economic recovery in the US from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic could take until the end of 2021.

The U.S.is the world's worst affected country by the COVID-19 pandemic, having registered more than 1.4 million cases and over 89,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Fed chairs use interviews on national television networks sparingly, but the 60 Minutes interview Sunday evening was his second since the US central bank began putting its financial power behind the virus fight. Those are levels reminiscent of the Great Depression in the 1930s, though Powell said he thought a prolonged crash of that magnitude remains unlikely.

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"There're plenty of people who think negative interest rates are a good policy", Powell said.

While Powell noted that people should never "bet" against the American economy, but he took care not to promise a swift, so-called V-shaped rebound. That may mean, he said, that "we can get back to a healthy economy fairly quickly".

He said a recovery may take a while and "could stretch through the end of next year". "We really don't know", he said.

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Asked about the need for a vaccine to treat the illness and put a stop to the coronavirus pandemic, Powell stressed the importance of consumers to the economy. But he suggested that a full recovery won't likely be possible before the arrival of a vaccine.

The Fed rushed in even before the economic lockdowns were fully in place, slashing the benchmark lending rate and pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system and into lending programs to support corporations, small- and medium-sized businesses and state and local governments.

"By keeping people and businesses out of insolvency just for maybe three to six more months. we can buy time with that", as health authorities work on virus control. "The recovery will be slower", he said.

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Oil prices climbed by more than $1 a barrel today, supported by output cuts and signs of a gradual recovery in demand amid easing coronavirus curbs, with U.S. oil showing no signs of last month's contract expiry price rout.

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