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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a press conference in June. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

In its biggest decision since 2015, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it would slash its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point, as expected, in an effort to extend the economic boom and boost weak inflation.

Between the lines: Speaking to reporters at a press conference following the decision, Fed Chair Jerome Powell re-adjusted the market‘s expectations of a series of more rate cuts by the end of the year. Stocks dropped sharply during the press conference, but after regaining some ground, the Dow finished down more than 300 points, while the S&P fell 1.19% and the Nasdaq dropped 1.1%.

The Fed also announced it would end the runoff of its multi-trillion balance sheet on Thursday — 2 months earlier than expected.

Details:

  • Echoing comments from recent members of the Fed in recent weeks, the central bank noted in its policy statement that its decision to reduce rates came "in light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook" — namely the trade war and faltering economies around the world.
  • Powell spent most of the press conference trying not to imply that he was committed to this as a "one-and-done" action or a series of rate cuts.
  • Traders trimmed bets that the Fed would cut multiple times this year.

President Trump — who, for the past year, has broken presidential norms by consistently calling on the Fed for looser monetary policy — said Powell "let us down" (it's unclear who "us" refers to) in not saying this was "the beginning of a lengthy and aggressive rate-cutting cycle."

  • Powell, during the press conference, reiterated the Fed's political independence, despite the fact that Trump has so far gotten everything he's wanted from the central bank.

The bottom line: While previous Fed regimes have cut rates when the economy was not in the throes of a recession, it's still a rare move — one that will likely be a legacy-shaping milestone in Jerome Powell's tenure as Fed chairman.

Go deeper: Why the Fed wants higher inflation

Go deeper

Asymptotic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.

Biden steps into the breach

Sen. Joe Manchin heads to a meeting with President Biden today. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden ramped up the pressure on his fellow Democrats Wednesday, calling a series of lawmakers to the White House in the hope of ending infighting and getting them in line.

Why it matters: Divisions within the party are threatening to derail Biden's top priorities. After several weeks of letting negotiations play out, the president is finally asserting his power to ensure his own party doesn't block his agenda.