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But Ben, they were expecting more

A New York Stock Exchange trader looks on minutes before the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by one-quarter of a percentage point today.

KAI RYSSDAL: If you want to sound hip when you talk about this at your office holiday party, what you should say is that Wall Street had already priced the rate cut in. That is, traders spent the past couple of days buying and selling on the assumption the Fed would cut rates, and that did indeed happen today. Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues at the Federal Open Market Committee cut short term interest rates a quarter of a point. Problem is, Wall Street and everybody else was banking on a half-point cut.

Diane Swonk's the chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

DIANE SWONK: It puts the Fed in a position of having to do it again in January, and still not being able to sort of walk with the conviction that they have reestablished confidence in financial markets. It keeps the disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street.

It's always a good idea to read the statement the Fed puts out after it meets. About the only ray of sunshine today for analysts worried about the credit crunch was that the Fed did, indeed, leave the door open to the idea of more cuts when it meets at the end of January.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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