Here's a look at some of the steps the Federal Reserve and other major central banks have taken to try to bolster their banking systems since the financial crisis erupted in 2008:
_ FEDERAL RESERVE
Interest rates: Lowered its key benchmark rate to a record low near zero in December 2008. It's kept it there since. In January, the Fed said it planned to maintain this level until at least late 2014.
Bond buying: Completed two rounds of purchases to try to reduce long-term rates on mortgages and others loans. The first began at the height of the financial crisis. In November 2010, the Fed announced a second round of bond purchases. Combined, they totaled $2.35 trillion, swelling the Fed's balance sheet to its current record: $2.94 trillion.
_ EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK
Interest rates: Cut its benchmark rate to 1 percent in December.
Bank loans: Has pumped out more than $1 billion in low-interest loans since December to benefit hundreds of banks and to try to stabilize governments and businesses. The first installment led 523 banks to borrow about $658 billion. On Wednesday, the second round of loans went to 800 banks, which borrowed $712 billion.
Bond buying: Has bought around 219 billion euros ($268 billion) in government bonds on the secondary market. Its support programs have nearly doubled the ECB's balance sheet since August 2008 to 2.66 trillion euros. That's equivalent to $3.58 trillion _ more than the Fed's $2.94 trillion balance sheet.
_ BANK OF ENGLAND
Interest Rate: Has kept its benchmark rate at a record low of 0.5 percent since 2009.
Bond buying: Announced in February that it would buy an additional 50 billion pounds ($79 billion) in government bonds. The fresh round of quantitative easing would raise total purchases to 325 billion pounds ($515 billion). Its balance sheet has more than tripled since August 2008 to 311 pounds, or about $498 billion.
_ BANK OF JAPAN
Interest Rates: Has kept its benchmark rate at zero to 0.1 percent.
Bond Buying: Announced in February a 10 trillion yen ($125 billion) expansion of a program to buy long-term government bonds, to 65 trillion yen. The announcement weakened the yen's value against the dollar, making Japanese goods less expensive for foreigners. Since August 2008, its balance sheet has jumped 28 percent to 140 trillion yen, equal to about $1.74 trillion.
AP Staff Writers David McHugh in Frankfurt, Pan Pylas in London and Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.
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