The Federal Reserve (Fed) on Tuesday, March 1, announced its first emergency interest rate cut since the financial crisis, lowering the rate by half a percentage point, amid a growing concern from the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump said the cut was not enough.

In an unexpected move, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets Fed interest rates, decided to cut its baseline rate range to a target range of 1.00% to 1.25%.

This was the first such cut since the financial crisis in 2008, according to CNBC.

The rate reduction comes amid a volatile patch on the U.S. stock market and after President Trump has called for lower rates to compete with other central banks.

In a statement on Tuesday, the FOMC said the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong, but “the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity.”

“In light of these risks and in support of achieving its maximum employment and price stability goals, the Federal Open Market Committee decided today to lower the target range for the federal funds rate.”

At a news conference later, Fed’s Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank took action after seeing the coronavirus was having a material impact on the economic outlook.

“The magnitude and persistence of the overall effect on the U.S. economy remain highly uncertain and the situation remains a fluid one,” he said. “The committee judged that the risks to the U.S. outlook have changed materially. In response, we have eased the stance of monetary policy to provide some more support to the economy.”

Powell admitted that the rate cut “will not reduce the rate of infection, it won’t fix a broken supply chain” caused by the coronavirus outbreak and unique panic stirred by a health scare.

“We don’t think we have all the answers, but we do believe that our action will provide a meaningful boost to the economy,” Powell said, adding that the rate reduction would avoid a tightening of financial conditions and help boost household and business confidence.

In a reaction on Tuesday, President Trump said a half point cut is not enough.

“The Federal Reserve is cutting but must further ease and, most importantly, come into line with other countries/competitors. We are not playing on a level field. Not fair to USA. It is finally time for the Federal Reserve to LEAD. More easing and cutting!” the president wrote in a tweet.

In another tweet earlier in the day, President Trump also mentioned that other countries are cutting rates to make up for China’s coronavirus situation and slowdown, and called for the Fed to “ease and cut rate big.”

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.