Cramer: Powell fixed his 'rookie mistake' and is now on the right path with rates

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell changed course and finally made the correct policy decision by indicating the Fed is stalling interest rate increases for the year, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday.

“I thought that Jay was great [Wednesday],” Cramer told “Squawk Box,” referring to Powell’s news conference at the conclusion of the central bank’s two-day policy meeting. “It’s not easy to start. You make your rookie mistakes, you come back. He’s a great guy. Anyone who knows him knows that he course corrected.”

The latest policy decision came as the list of economists and business elite predicting a downturn grows.

The Fed decided Wednesday to hold interest rates steady, as expected, and indicated it would keep rates at current levels for the rest of 2019. The central bank currently holds its benchmark funds rate in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent.

Speaking after the Fed’s decision, Powell said that weakening Chinese and European economies are acting as a deterrent to growth at home even as policymakers see the overall outlook in the U.S. as good.

Cramer agreed, saying the “economy is slowing,” earnings are downshifting and there are growth concerns in just about every part of the world.

Cramer has been critical of the Fed ever since Powell’s remarks on Oct. 3 that the cost of borrowing money was a long way from so-called neutral, sparking concerns about possibly more aggressive Fed tightening. Powell appeared to walk back those comments the following month, saying rates are “just below” the balance point of not stimulating or slowing the economy.

Powell later left the door open to other options, emphasizing “data dependency” and saying if data did not hold up in 2019, the Fed may change course.

Cramer said last month that he doesn’t see an economic recession, at least anytime soon. But when asked about what would cause the next recession, Cramer responded in part with, “Three [Fed] tightenings.”

The Fed did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Cramer’s remarks.

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

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