Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday will conclude a two-day policy meeting that is likely to yield little action — rates are already at near-zero and are almost certain to stay there for an extended period — but could provide a fresh read on how policymakers are thinking about the economic outlook, and hints about their plans for the future.
On Tuesday the Fed extended its emergency lending programs through the end of 2020, a three-month addition that, while not surprising, signaled how lasting the economic damage from the coronavirus is proving.
The chair, Jerome H. Powell, who will hold a remote news conference at 2:30 p.m., is sure to field questions on the newly extended programs, which were introduced to try to keep markets functioning and credit flowing.
The Fed took unprecedented actions in March and April to provide a first line of defense for the economy as coronavirus cases swept the nation and shut down entire business sectors. Most of the nine programs were set to expire on or around the end of September, evidence that officials expected that normal conditions might return by fall.
That optimism has been upended by a surge in new infections, which has continued to depress economic activity. While state and local economies have reopened, many have had to roll back or delay their plans, and experts warn that the situation could take a turn for the worse if the virus takes hold more deeply.