By The Associated Press
Here are some steps major central banks have taken to try to bolster their banking systems and economies:
- BANK OF JAPAN
Interest Rates: Has kept its benchmark interest rate at zero to 0.1 percent.
Bond Buying: Announced Wednesday that it will boost the size and duration of a government bond-buying program that's intended to encourage borrowing and spending and make Japan's exports more competitive. It also eliminated a minimum required interest rate on the government bonds it buys.
- FEDERAL RESERVE
Interest rates: Has kept its benchmark short-term rate at a record low near zero since December 2008. Last week, it said it planned to maintain that level at least through mid-2015 - six months longer than previously planned.
Bond buying: It said last week that it will spend $40 billion a month to buy mortgage bonds for as long as it deems necessary to make home buying more affordable. It also said it would try other stimulative measures if hiring doesn't pick up.
- EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK
Interest rates: Has kept its benchmark rate at 0.75 percent, a record low.
Bond buying: Unveiled this month a plan to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds to help lower borrowing costs for countries struggling to manage their debts.
Earlier, the ECB gave banks more than euro1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) in low-interest loans lasting up to three years. The loans provide secure financing at a time when some banks can't borrow normally.
- BANK OF ENGLAND
Interest Rate: Has kept its benchmark rate at a record low of 0.5 percent since 2009.
Bond buying: Announced this summer a plan to buy more government bonds from financial institutions, hoping the banks will use the extra cash to lend to businesses and households.
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