In such challenging times, banks have a fundamentally important role to  play. This begins with central banks and then ripples out through  economies via the banks themselves as they provide funding liquidity to  support businesses and individuals.

Globally and locally, central bank actions have taken decisive and significant  measures to mitigate the impact of these challenging times. The Federal  Reserve (Fed) in the US has slashed interest rates by a full percentage  point to effectively zero and launched a US$700bn package of quantitative  easing (QE). The European Central Bank (ECB) cut rates and extended its  QE program in September, however didn’t follow the FED and Bank of  England with further cuts as of March 12th. They have announced  measures to support bank lending and expanded its asset purchase  program by 120 billion euros (US$135.28 billion). There has also been a  deal between six major central banks including the Fed and the ECB to  lower their rates on currency swaps to help financial markets function  normally.

These measures set the context in which banks can better support their  customers. It won’t be an easy ride ahead. Many businesses are likely to  face severe difficulties in the coming weeks and months, and life will get  tougher for the banks too. But the right steps are being taken by regulators  and banks to bolster the system and help stabilize the situation.

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The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has dramatically gathered pace in recent weeks, with fresh developments almost by the hour. Many countries have declared national emergencies and are fighting to contain the virus’ spread.