Trump 'not thrilled' at Fed chief's interest rate hikes

Trump 'not thrilled' at Fed chief's interest rate hikes

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE on Monday ramped up his criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and the central bank's interest rate hikes in an interview with Reuters.

Trump told Reuters that he was “not thrilled” with Powell, who he appointed to lead the Fed and that the bank  should do “what’s good for the country” by holding off on rate hikes.

"I should be given some help by the Fed,” Trump told Reuters, adding that he’d continue to criticize the independent central bank if it move ahead with planned interest rate hikes.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump has broken from the majority of Republicans on monetary policy with his support for low interest rates to stimulate the economy. Most right-leaning economists and lawmakers say keeping rates low could risk rampant inflation and financial market bubbles.

The Fed has raised interest rates seven times since 2015 after slashing them during the 2008 recession as the U.S. experiences record low unemployment and stable inflation.

Powell, a Republican, supported former Fed Chair Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenTrump nominates former Fed economist to central bank's board On The Money: Trump may impose 0B in China tariffs as soon as next week | Trump nixes federal worker pay raise | Biz groups push for deal with Canada | Trump threatens to leave WTO Trump says he doesn't regret picking Powell to lead Fed MORE’s decisions to hold off on rate hikes until late 2015. He voted in lockstep with Yellen, who also supported gradual rate hikes in her final years leading the Fed.

Powell took over as Fed chairman in February and the bank has raised interest rates twice since his ascension. The Fed is expected to hike rates again in September and December, moving the federal funds rate to a relatively low 2.25 to 2.5 percent target range.

Raising interest rates would increase the costs of borrowing money, which could slow economic growth and job gains. The U.S. unemployment rate is currently 3.9 percent, well below what the Fed deems full employment, and bank officials have gradually increased their rate hike forecasts through 2018.  

Trump and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow have both called on Powell to ease off rate hikes to keep the booming economy growing and dismissed concerns about inflation.

Trump has also publicly criticized Powell several times this summer and reportedly did so again Friday at a GOP fundraiser in New York, saying he thought the chairman would support “easy money.”

Powell has brushed off Trump’s comments, saying he feels no pressure from the president to hold back on rate hikes and that he hasn’t been influenced by his administration.

Trump also repeated his concerns about Fed rate hike complicating his trade agenda and accused China and the European Union of manipulating its currencies. The president said Powell should mirror the more accommodative policies of foreign central banks, which have held back from tightening rates.

“We’re negotiating very powerfully and strongly with other nations. We’re going to win. But during this period of time I should be given some help by the Fed. The other countries are accommodated,” Trump said.

Trump has been focused on reducing U.S. trade deficits with other nations, a metric most economists say does not fully portray the fairness of terms between two countries. Rising interest rates increases the value of the dollar, raising the costs of U.S. exports and potentially deepening trade deficits.

Updated at 5:58 p.m.