Economists say the surprise cut of three-fourths of a percentage point, the largest since the central bank began using the federal funds rate as a policy tool in the 1990s, may help kick-start flagging growth.
Yet some say the move will bring little immediate relief and other critics say Fed chairman Ben Bernanke may have buckled to market pressure, setting a bad precedent.
Keith Hembre, chief economist for First American Funds, said the rate cut in the funds rate to 3.5 percent "is a welcome move" but not enough to avert a downturn.
"Our forecast is that we're likely to have a recession and the Fed needs to bring its real rate (after adjusting for inflation) to zero," Hembre said, suggesting a federal funds rate of around 2.
"Monetary policy is going to affect the economy with a substantial lag so this will not do anything to head off economic trouble in 2008 but it should set the stage for a pretty good environment in 2009," Hembre added.
The emergency action aft