President Donald Trump escalated his criticism of the Federal Reserve into a personal attack of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, including during an interview on Monday.
In the interview with Reuters, Trump said he was “not thrilled” with Powell and said he expected “more help” from the central bank. The president said he would continue to criticize the Fed if the central bank continued to raise short-term interest rates.
pulled back a bit after Trump’s remarks on the Fed but still closed higher.
Over the weekend, at a fundraiser in the Hamptons, Trump said he expected Powell to be a cheap-money Fed chairman and lamented the Fed instead had raised interest rates, Bloomberg reported.The story cited three people present as having described Trump’s private remarks. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Trump questioned the need for rate hikes at the event.
The U.S. dollar
— a frequent target of Trump criticism — drifted lower after the reports of Trump’s remarks.
In the remarks to donors, Trump said he was told by advisers that Powell liked “cheap money” and yet quickly started raising rates, according to the Journal. “This can only happen to Trump,” the president reportedly joked.
The Fed had no comment on the reports.
Powell was asked in July about criticism from the White House. “Let me just say I’m not concerned about it, and I’ll tell you why,” Powell told NPR. “We have a long tradition here of conducting policy in a particular way, and that way is independent of all political concerns.”
The Fed has raised interest rates twice this year and has penciled in two more quarter-point interest-rate hikes this year and three more in 2019.
The Fed is concerned about rising prices — the 12-month rate of core inflation in July rose to 2.4%, the highest level since September 2008.
Trump is not alone in his concern about the Fed, which comes as the Treasury yield curve — the difference in the yield between the 2-year
notes was the flattest in 11 years. An inverted yield curve is often considered a predictor of recessions.
Joe Lavorgna, chief economist of the America for Natixis, thinks the Fed is prepared to tighten even if the market swoons.
David Blanchflower, an economics professor at Dartmouth College, said Monday that the central bank is making a big mistake with its gradual interest-rate hikes. He said the Fed is mistaken in its view that labor markets are tight. This is the type of error “that ends recoveries,” he said.
Last month, Trump said he was unhappy with the Fed’s recent rate increases and later complained the hikes were taking away “our competitive edge” with China and the European Union.