Wall Street Journal: Trump told Fed chair ‘I’m stuck with you’
President Donald Trump hasn’t stopped railing against Jerome Powell, his Federal Reserve chairman, for holding back the US economy.
His recent complaints during at least three meetings this week, reported by the Wall Street Journal, come despite Powell taking steps to indefinitely pause raising interest rates this year and halting plans to shrink its balance sheet, two things Trump has repeatedly pressed for as recently as last week in a tweet.
The President reportedly blamed Powell during meetings with Republican senators and staffers that if it hadn’t been for a string of rate increases by the Fed — four in total — last year’s stocks would have risen higher and the budget deficit would not have widened as much, according to the Journal.
One person, who heard the comments made by the President about Powell, described it as “pretty rough,” according to the Journal.
Trump also blamed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for recommending him to the job. “Mnuchin gave me this guy,” Trump said according to the person who heard the comments, the paper reported.
In a recent telephone conversation, Trump told Powell, “I guess I’m stuck with you,” the person recalled, according to the Journal.
A Fed spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that Powell had a brief conversation with Trump on March 8, but declined to elaborate any further.
A White House spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
Powell has said repeated political attacks by Trump have had zero influence on the central bank’s decision to slow down interest rate hikes.
“Not at all. Not at all,” said Powell in an interview with the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” two days after his telephone conversation with Trump. “And it’s very important that the public understand that we are always going to make a decision based on what we think is right for the American people.”
Powell explained that the Fed’s decision in January to pause raising rates was because the global economy was showing signs of slowing and other risks to the US economy were rising.
The Fed chairman has repeatedly made the case for a patient, measured approach, describing the US economy in a “good place,” where policy makers “don’t feel any hurry to change our interest rate policy.”
Trump has made a habit of lashing out at the Fed over interest rate hikes, but lately, his top economic advisers have joined in, too — breaking the code of conduct shared by bankers and economists to display solidarity with their boss.
The latest attack came from National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, who said in multiple interviews last week that last year’s interest rate hikes were undermining the Trump administration’s campaign promise of attaining 3% sustained economic growth — a claim amplified on Trump’s own Twitter feed.
Kudlow called on the world’s most influential central bank to cut rates “immediately,” marking the first time a top administration official had publicly called for a cut — and specifically argued that the Fed should shave off half a percentage point, effectively erasing two of the four rate hikes the central bank agreed to last year.
“I am echoing the President’s view — he’s not been bashful about that view,” Kudlow said in an interview on CNBC, shortly after Axios published similar comments.
His remarks have closely echoed those of Stephen Moore, another former television commentator-turned-distinguished fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, who Trump said he plans to nominate to the Fed Board of Governors. Moore has said the Fed was wrong to raise rates in September and December and has since called on the central bank to reverse course by cutting rates by half a percentage point.