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Fed's Stern Says Rate Cuts Should Protect Economy

The Federal Reserve's interest rate cuts are appropriate to restore stability in financial markets and prevent damage to the broader economy, Minneapolis Fed President Gary Stern said on Tuesday.

"Against the backdrop of the financial shocks that have beset the economy and their implications for the outlook, the reduction in the funds rate target appears wholly appropriate," he said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Financial Planning Association of Minnesota.

The Fed is responsible for restoring financial stability and protecting the broad economy from damage, Stern said.

"Policy is now better positioned to attain these objectives than formerly," he added.

Stern said the current situation is reminiscent of the early 1990s, when the economy faced "headwinds" after the 1990-91 recession, particularly tighter credit and a real estate bust.

"In this environment, we need to remain sensitive to evolving financial conditions and to incoming information on business activity in order to further determine the relevance of that earlier experience," Stern said.

It is possible that an appreciable tightening of credit conditions could restrain the economy for a time, the Minneapolis Fed president said. He expects economic growth to average 2.5 percent a year over the long run, he added. Meanwhile, the possibility of a credit crunch cannot be ruled out, he added.

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