Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he would serve his full-term as head of the U.S. central bank even if President Donald Trump tries to demote him.
Powell tells reporters at a Wednesday news conference, "The law is clear that I have a four-year term and I full intend to serve it."
Trump has been displeased with Powell after the Fed hiked rates four times in 2018, saying the upward moves had stifled growth and the benefits of his tax cuts. The Fed raised rates in accordance with its dual mandate to keep prices stable and maximize employment.
Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that the White House in February examined the legality of stripping the chairmanship from Powell and demoting him back to a Fed governor. Bloomberg reported in December that Trump had discussed firing Powell amid mounting frustration over interest-rate increases last year.
The president has repeatedly criticized Powell, his own pick as Fed chair, for not doing enough to boost the economy. Trump has called for lower interest rates as he seeks to offset the headwinds created by his trade war with China, and create a favorable backdrop for his re-election campaign next year.
Trump told ABC News Friday that he disagreed with Powell “entirely,” adding that “if we had a different person in the Federal Reserve that wouldn’t have raised interest rates so much,” economic growth would have been stronger. He returned to the fray as the Fed meeting got under way Tuesday, calling out the European Central Bank for weakening the euro by pledging policy stimulus.
In addition to Powell, Trump has picked three of the other four current members of the Fed Board in Washington. They all voted in favor of the Fed’s last interest-rate increase in December.
The president’s attacks on the Fed are a departure from almost three decades of caution in the White House about making public comments on monetary policy, out of respect for the independence of the central bank.
Material from Bloomberg, Reuters and the Associated Press has been used in this report.
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