“This will be the work of all of government,” Mr. Powell said. “The recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side to provide support to the economy until it is clearly out of the woods.”
But Mr. Powell, along with many of his Fed colleagues, has also made clear that monetary and fiscal policy can only do so much to buttress the economy and that the recovery will be determined in large part by the path of the virus.
Mr. Powell, whose institution is set up to operate independently of the White House, was unambiguous in recommending a solution, one that contrasts with the message and example that has at times been held out by the Trump administration.
“We should continue do what we can to manage downside risks to the outlook,” Mr. Powell said, adding that doing so required “following medical experts’ guidance, including using masks and social-distancing measures.”
One of his colleagues was more blunt — and more worried.
“Because of the United States’s inability to control the virus, we’ve experienced approximately 21 percent of the world’s deaths, despite housing only about 4 percent of the world’s population,” Patrick T. Harker, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said in a separate speech on Tuesday.
The virus is still circulating even as cases come down in some places, Mr. Harker said, and “in recent days, we’ve even seen alarming spikes in other areas, like New York City, that we had hoped had permanently suppressed their infection rates.”
The Fed itself has gone to great lengths to support the economy, cutting interest rates to near-zero in March, rolling out a large bond-buying program and setting up emergency lending efforts, many of them backed by Treasury Department funding.