Central Banks to the Rescue
Nov 18, 2021 | Viewpoints
The novel coronavirus pandemic that spread across the globe beginning in late 2019 and early 2020 presented nations with a crisis that threatened both the health of populations, as well as the vitality of national economies. As the pandemic spread, negative economic impacts resulting from pandemic mitigation measures were felt at a speed and scope not seen before. Prior economic recessions were often associated with asset bubbles, speculation, easy credit, or weak regulation. The blow to the global economy from COVID-19 was a new kind of shock; one tied to social distancing and quarantines that shuttered businesses, sealed borders, disrupted supply chains, eliminated jobs, increased financial market volatility, and left policy makers scrambling for solutions. Recovery efforts differed across borders, but the crisis engendered immediate and decisive action from central banks across regions, some of which were still recovering from the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008-09. Central banks implemented traditional recession-fighting weapons, but the speed, size, and magnitude of their efforts to address the COVID-induced recession were unprecedented as they were varied. Central banks continued to support their economies while stabilizing capital markets through monetary policy, maintaining open market operations, repurchase agreement facilities, lowering bank reserve requirements, reintroducing asset purchases, and creating capital market back-stops, all which provided much needed confidence and liquidity to a global financial system threatened by COVID-19.