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Fed between a rock and a hard place, economist says

As Federal Reserve officials prepare to meet next week, one Fed watcher said Wednesday that right now the central bank is "between a rock and a hard place."

Several big investors heaped criticism on the Fed and its low interest rate policy during Tuesday's Delivering Alpha conference.

"There is a real issue on cause and effect and a vicious cycle of if you pull out, do you have the tail wagging the dog on financial markets telling the Fed what to do. On the other side of it, we can't afford to have a sort of very disorderly unwinding of financial markets either," Diane Swonk, founder and CEO of DW Economics, said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

While the Fed's policymaking committee could decide to raise interest rates at next week's meeting, the market isn't expecting it. Swonk also believes there will be no rate hike in September.

But with all the talk of monetary policy, what has really been missing are fiscal reforms, she pointed out.

"Austerity sort of took a higher priority than it should have earlier in the cycle," said Swonk.

Now, there is talk about loosening up on fiscal policy during a time when there is a lot of debt in the world.

"It does make me worried about can we really get the fiscal reforms and fiscal policy we need to get better economic growth and get the Fed sidelined. I'm not sure that can happen," she said.