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Trump: 'My Biggest Threat Is the Fed'

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By    |   Tuesday, 16 October 2018 03:49 PM

Stepping up his attacks on the Federal Reserve, President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that the Fed is "my biggest threat" because he thinks it's raising interest rates too quickly.

“My biggest threat is the Fed,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network. “Because the Fed is raising rates too fast, and it’s too independent," he said.

In excerpts released before the interview with "Trish Regan Primetime" on Fox Business News airing on Tuesday, Trump said, "I put a couple of other people there I’m not so happy with too, but for the most part I’m very happy with people."

The president has expressed his discontent with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Reuters explained.

The Fed raised rates to a target range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent last month and forecast rates would be 3.1 percent by the end of next year, according to updated projections, which would be slightly above their median estimate of the neutral rate, Bloomberg reported.

While there’s no sign of inflationary pressures so far, a continuing decline in the level of unemployment below the already-low 3.7 percent it touched in September means officials do have to worry about price gains accelerating.

The Fed has raised rates six times since Trump’s inauguration in response to low unemployment and more rapid economic growth, but it has proceeded more cautiously than in past economic expansions.

"Because the Fed is raising rates too fast and it's independent so I don't speak to him," Trump said in reference to Powell. "But I'm not happy with what he's doing because it's going too fast, because you look at the last inflation numbers, they're very low," Trump told Fox Business Network.

Trump's criticism of the Fed is just the latest example of  a seemingly daily ritual for the president, who has repeatedly complained that the Fed was hurting financial markets and threatening economic growth by raising interest rates too quickly.

Trump's latest remarks come just days after Larry Kudlow said Trump is concerned higher interest rates might derail the U.S. economy, but wasn’t trying to interfere with Fed independence when he criticized monetary policy last week as “crazy.”

“The president, as a successful businessman and investor, knows a lot about these topics and he’s giving his opinion,” the White House economic director said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.” “His concern is the Fed might move too quickly, and might choke off the recovery,” Bloomberg quoted Kudlow as saying.

The president took a shot at the central bank on last Wednesday, saying, the Fed was “going loco” with with interest-rate increases. He doubled down on Thursday, blaming the nation’s “out of control” central bank for a sixth straight day of losses that wiped out much of the year’s gains in the U.S. stock market.

Trump’s remarks, which ratcheted up the severity of complaints he started making about the Fed in August, sparked fresh complaints that the central bank’s independence is under threat. Kudlow denied that.

“He never said to the Fed, ‘I want you to change this or to change that,’” Kudlow said. “He respects the Fed’s independence.”

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether he thought Fed policy was out of control, Kudlow said he personally doesn’t, and that Trump isn’t trying to influence policy.

“He is not telling them or mandating them to change their strategy, he’s not telling them to change their policy,” Kudlow said. “He’s just raising a very important issue.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell was picked by Trump to lead the central bank after the president opted not to extend the tenure of Janet Yellen.

Meanwhile, former Fed Chair Janet Yellen cautioned that Trump’s criticism of Fed policy threatens the institution she ran for four years, adding that it’s “not a desirable thing for a president to comment so explicitly" on central bank policy.

“To politicize it and to undermine that is something that is essentially damaging to the Fed and to financial stability,” Yellen, who stepped down as Fed chair early this year, said Monday in Washington. “Obviously, presidents can speak out if they choose to and give their opinions about policy. There’s no law against that, but I don’t think it’s wise,” she said, Bloomberg reported.

Yellen defended her successor, Powell, while saying the U.S. central bank is independent and apolitical.

“I don’t believe that President Trump’s comments will change what the Fed is doing,” she said.

The former Fed chair’s comments add to a chorus of voices who say it’s unusual and even perhaps dangerous for a president to openly criticize central bank policy, which is charged by Congress with focusing on delivering maximum sustainable employment and stable prices. Some economists, including Stanford University professor John Taylor, defended Trump and said he was merely participating in an ongoing discussion.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday escalated his assault on the Federal Reserve, calling it the biggest threat of his presidency.
trump, fed, threat, rates
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2018-49-16
Tuesday, 16 October 2018 03:49 PM
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