June 16 (UPI) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is set to testify in the Senate on Tuesday, the first of two days during which he's expected to map out the United States' COVID19 economic recovery picture.
Powell will appear remotely before the Senate banking committee at 10 a.m. EDT to discuss the Fed's semiannual monetary policy report to Congress. He will appear in the House on Wednesday.
In the report, the U.S. central bank said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused "tremendous human and economic hardship" throughout the United States and the world and cited a decline in economic activity, a surge in joblessness, weaker demand and low oil prices.
"Financial conditions have improved, in part reflecting policy measures to support the U.S. economy and the flow of credit," the report says. "The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum-employment and price-stability goals."
The Fed updated its Secondary Market Corporate Credit facility on Monday and expanded its reach to buy individual corporate bonds, in addition to exchange-traded funds.
The Federal Open Market Committee voted last week to leave interest rates unchanged and said it will likely keep them near zero until at least 2022, after lowering rates twice in March due to the pandemic.
Powell is required to testify in Congress about the report twice a year, providing an overview of the domestic economy. His first update occurred in early February before the full impact of the health crisis and the mass closures that followed.
At the meeting in February, Powell warned that the central bank may lack the tools to fight off a recession, saying "it would be important for fiscal policy to support the economy if it weakens" given the interest rates at the time, which were situated between 1.5 and 1.75 percent.
At the time, Powell said the Fed would use qualitative easing, the process of buying large amounts of government debt to drive down long-term interest rates, to fight economic downturn.
Powell is scheduled to testify before the House financial services committee at noon EDT Wednesday. His congressional testimony is expected to have a sizable influence on U.S. markets. His appearance Tuesday coincides with the release of U.S. retail sales figures for May.
World moves to reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (L) passes out face masks when he arrives at Grand Central Station to attend a nearby press conference to enter phase 1 of a four-part reopening plan in New York City on June 8. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo