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Fed left with 'arm flapping' to boost economy: Pro

The Federal Reserve lacks the leverage to boost a lackluster economy amid years of easy policy, one expert said Thursday.

"They can't do much beyond arm flapping to try to get the economy moving again," Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of BMO Private Bank, told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

The Federal Reserve building
Getty Images
The Federal Reserve building

His comments came after the Commerce Department said third-quarter gross domestic product grew at a 1.5 percent annual rate after expanding at a 3.9 percent clip in the second quarter. The reading followed the Fed's Wednesday decision to keep its short-term interest rate target near zero, while hinting it could consider hiking at its December meeting.

Read MoreUS Q3 gross domestic product up 1.5% vs 1.6% growth expected

At this point, the Fed "doesn't have that much power" to kick-start the economy, he contended.

Slow growth is the "overriding story" in the U.S. economy right now, added Andrew Slimmon, managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. He told "Power Lunch" that investors need "short-term caution" about stocks.

— Reuters contributed to this story.