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No need for the Fed to enter 'panic mode' and cut rates now, says Moody's

Key Points
  • Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow and Heritage Foundation fellow Stephen Moore have both said the U.S. Federal Reserve should cut interest rates by 50 basis points.
  • But Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said he's not sure "why the Fed needs to go into panic mode" when data are still pointing to a healthy economy.

Economic data in the U.S. don't justify an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve — despite recent calls for the American central bank to do so, said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said last week that the U.S. central bank should "immediately" cut interest rates by 50 basis points. His comment followed a similar stance by Heritage Foundation fellow Stephen Moore, whom U.S. President Donald Trump has said he intends to nominate for a position on the Fed.

Their comments came after the Fed's latest decision to hold rates steady as it cut the central bank's forecasts for U.S. economic expansion and inflation. The central bank also warned of slowing growth in Europe and China.

While the U.S. is indeed growing at a slower pace, economic data don't suggest the need to cut interest rates, Zandi told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.

"I'm not sure why the Fed needs to go into panic mode here," he said. He pointed to the latest data that showed the U.S. economy was still healthy: Unemployment rate was close to a 50-year low, wage growth was strong, inflation inched closer to the Fed's target of 2 percent and the stock market looked like it could hit record levels again.

Lowering interest rates under such conditions would be "counter-productive" because the move could "juice things up" and encourage debt to build up in the economy, he explained.

Rising debt in the U.S. is a risk that Zandi flagged last year. He said "over-borrowing" among companies would become problematic and could send the economy into a recession.

WATCH: Mark Zandi says corporate debt could cause 'reckoning' in 2020
VIDEO4:1004:10
Mark Zandi says corporate debt could cause 'reckoning' in 2020