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Trump Asks Fed to Slash Rates Amid Stock Market Selloff

President Donald Trump has called on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates following a massive drop in the stock market last week.

During a news conference at the White House, Trump urged the Federal Reserve to take the lead as the concerns among investors grow due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Out Fed should start being a leader,” Trump said. “We should have the lowest interest rates. We don’t have the lowest interest rates. Our Fed rate is higher. You look at Germany, you look at Japan, you look at other countries: many of them have negative rates and we are not put in that position because of our Fed.”

On Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested that the central bank is considering the option to lower interest rates, depending on the situation in the market.

“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong,” Powell said in a statement, according to International Business Times.

“However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity. The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook. We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”

Apart from cutting interest rates, the Trump administration is also considering tax cuts to stimulate economic growth, which is expected to slow down this year due to the coronavirus.

At least 83,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus, but only around 62 cases are in the U.S. Last week, the World Health Organization upgraded the risk of the outbreak to “very high.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 3,583 points and 12.4 percent in the sell off last week, while the Nasdaq went down by 1,009 points and 10.5 percent. The S&P 500 fell 384 points and 11.5 percent.

Wall Street firms are now trying to come up with contingency plans in the event of an outbreak in the U.S. On March 7, the New York Stock Exchange will begin testing its electronic trading systems “as if the 11 Wall Street trading floors were unavailable.”

On Thursday, JPMorgan told employees in a letter that international travel will be restricted to essential trips only. It also asked employees who have been to high-risk regions to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Some traders believe that the reaction to the outbreak was overblown and others have expressed some optimism for the economy. “I don’t think this is going to send the U.S. economy into a recession,” UBS financial adviser Rich Leone told Neil Cavuto today on FOX Business.

“I think it’s more likely than not the bull market continues, the economic expansion continues despite the short term volatility we’re seeing as a result of the coronavirus fears.”

Meanwhile, a former Federal Reserve insider has predicted that the world’s big central banks could slash rates soon in an attempt to stop the global stock market freefall.

Bill Nelson, chief economist at the Bank Policy Institute, predicted that a coordinated global interest rate cut could happen on Wednesday.

In his blog titled “Don’t keep your powder dry,” Nelson said that the rate cut would occur just before the U.S. stock market opens that day. He said he believes that tha rate cut would be at least half a percentage point.

Nelson, however, emphasized that there is a possiblity that his predictions won’t happen. “If markets are calm Monday and Tuesday, I’m not sure what will happen.”

In a related post, Nelson suggested that the Fed could also slash some regulations and requirements on U.S. banks to keep credit from freezing.