'Why I am shocked by Fed decision to cut rates' By Mike Swanson I was shocked by yesterday's decision by the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates by 50 basis points and then signal that there is more to come in its statement. The Fed is in a tough bind. I know there are frightening things happening in the credit markets and banks and Wall Street is clamoring for rate cuts. We saw the near collapse of Countrywide Financial a few weeks ago and England's Northern Rock has experienced a full fledged bank run. At the same time though inflation is accelerating as oil prices hit all-time highs and gold breaks through $700 an ounce and the DOW is only 1.7% off of its all-time high. Look the Fed saved the stock market from crashing on August 16th by intervention. We've since seen a rally going up into yesterday's expected Fed announcement while the credit markets continued to deteriorate. The move down in July was the first act of a financial crisis - and normally those unfold in two stages. The first being when people realize there is a big problem causing huge frightening losses the extent of which are unknown and are forcing institutional investors to selling due to margin calls and redemptions. The second act is when the market finds out how big the losses are and who has them. This is what happened in 1998. The market fell hard in August of that year due to turmoil in the international bond market, bounced, in September, and then dropped hard again to form a double bottom when the Long-Term Capital hedge fund blew up. If the Fed hadn't lowered interest by .50 basis points yesterday the market most likely would begin a correction by the end of this week that would bring it down to retest the August lows by the middle of October. The market most likely would have then made a double bottom and be geared up to up through the end of the year. If the Fed had to it could have even intervened again to force a bottom. Just about everyone expected the Fed to lower rates by a .25 basis points yesterday. To me this seemed like the logical thing to do. This way the Fed would save some ammo for later and deliver a message that it was there to step in if needed, but things weren't too serious. But by lowering rates by .50 points the Fed not only surprised the stock market, which forced shorts to close out positions and caused people to react to the news and create an outsized rally, but sent a very powerful message: The Fed will not allow the market to have a pullback of any sort. The Fed will not allow banks that made bad loans to go under and simply doesn't care about inflation or the value of the dollar at this stage of the game. I know many people reading this are excited to see the market go up, but you need to step back and think about things for a minute. Why did the Fed do what it did yesterday? What the Fed did is dire, because it is lowering interest rates in a huge dramatic way when the DOW is only 1.7% off of its all-time high and inflation is accelerating. Not even Alan Greenspan did anything like this. This is one of the most shocking things I've ever seen in the markets. August 16th was shocking. And if you listened to my podcast the following weekend you know it troubled me. I thought the stock market almost crashed that day and I took it as a sign that the macro big picture was changing - that subprime was a true problem in the markets that could lead to a wipeout in the coming weeks. I did not know what was going to happen, but I decided to actually stay out of the markets for the most part until the picture became more clear. Well, past history suggested that we would see a retest of the lows and the success or failure of that retest would tell us the depth of the credit problems and give us a good idea of what the market would do the rest of the year. Yesterday the Fed lowered rates by .50 points to shock the markets and force a rally to prevent such a retest. Yesterday is just as dramatic as the market action on August 16th, because it does indeed tell us that the macro picture is changing in a big way. A way that I didn't anticipate, because it is incredibly reckless and dangerous on the part of the Federal Reserve. It is almost insane. It would be the equivalent of George Bush saying "I am losing in Iraq and I need to win a war somewhere so I am going to launch nuclear strikes on Iran so I can go out a winner. Dick Cheney says it is a good idea so it must be." By lowering interest rates by half a point while the market priced in a quarter point drop and the US dollar index is under 80 Bernanke is doing the equivalent of launching a nuclear missile into the financial system. When the stock market went bust in 2000 Greenspan didn't lower rates to almost a year later and with the Nasdaq almost cut in half. During the 1998 Long-Term Capital Crisis he first cut by a quarter point and then lowered rates later when the market dropped again. The Fed is supposed to lower rates as you approach the trough of a business cycle, not right up near the top when there is inflation. To do so is very dangerous and if Bernanke continues this course he will destroy the value of the dollar. The Fed is saying that it will now print money like mad to prevent any sort of market pullback of any kind and it doesn't care about the value of the dollar. The US Dollar index is trading below its 30 year support level and will eventually collapse if the Fed continues upon the course that it announced yesterday.