links for 2008-01-22
Text of FOMC Statement Announcing Rate Cut

Ben Bernanke Is Earning His Pay

I remember yelling two years ago at some hapless Harvard Crimson reporter who referred to the Fed Chair job as a cushy sinecure:

Rex Nutting demonstrates that he is able to write very well very quickly:

Fed cuts rates 75 basis points in emergency move - MarketWatch: WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Hoping to halt a market meltdown and prevent a recession, the Federal Reserve lowered its overnight lending rate by three quarters of a percentage point to 3.50% on Tuesday in a rare move between formal meetings.

The 75 basis-point surprise cut came after global financial markets sold off in dramatic fashion on Monday on fears that bad bets in credit markets could spread further and drive the U.S. economy into recession. See full story on London markets.

"The committee took this action in view of a weakening economic outlook and increasing downside risks to growth," the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement. The Fed also lowered its discount rate by 75 basis points to 4%. It was the largest cut in the federal funds rate since 1982, after the FOMC had driven rates to 20% to kill inflation.

U.S. stocks opened with huge losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 450 points, or more than 3%. Treasurys rallied. "This move is not an instant fix," wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics. "The economy is still staring recession in the face, but at least the Fed now gets it." With the move coming just eight days before the next scheduled meeting, "there can be no doubt that the timing of this morning's move is aimed at supporting global financial markets after yesterday's global equity meltdown," wrote Joshua Shapiro, economist for MFR Inc. Some traders said the Fed's move sniffed of panic. "I think that there's an element of thinking that, if the Fed is so worried that it is cutting rates, then that is feeding into fears that the U.S. economy is in really bad shape," said David Page, a strategist at Investec Securities in London.

After a conference call Monday evening among the 10 voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee, the FOMC released a statement early Tuesday saying downside risks to growth remain. One member of the committee, William Poole, president of the St. Louis Fed, voted against the move. One other, Fed Gov. Frederic Mishkin, was absent. "While strains in short-term funding markets have eased somewhat, broader financial market conditions have continued to deteriorate and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households," the FOMC said. "Moreover, incoming information indicates a deepening of the housing contraction as well as some softening in labor markets." "Appreciable downside risks to growth remain," the statement said. "The committee will continue to assess the effects of financial and other developments on economic prospects and will act in a timely manner as needed to address those risks." The statement barely mentioned inflation, only saying that the FOMC expects inflation to moderate and will monitor inflation carefully...