Trump hits Fed chief, touts Walmart earnings

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE on Thursday mocked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for refusing to lower interest rates, while touting Walmart's better than expected third-quarter earnings.

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In a tweet, the president pointed to Walmart’s “great numbers,” noting that the retail chain has managed to avoid raising prices despite Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods.

“Walmart announces great numbers. No impact from Tariffs (which are contributing $Billions to our Treasury). Inflation low (do you hear that Powell?)!” Trump tweeted less than an hour before Powell was scheduled to appear before a House committee.

 

Trump’s tweet is the latest in more than a year of barbs and attacks intended to pressure the Fed into slashing interest rates to stimulate the economy. The president has pushed the independent central bank to make the move and cheapen the U.S. dollar to support his trade battles.

The Fed has cut rates three times in 2019 after hiking it four times last year, due in part to the mounting costs of Trump’s tariffs. Trump has demanded that the Fed go further to match near-zero or negative interest rates seen in countries teetering on recessions.

The Fed has never dropped interest rates below 0 percent and has only zeroed-out interest rates in times of severe crisis. Powell told lawmakers Wednesday that it would not make sense to match ultra-low interest rates while the U.S. economy still enjoyed near-record joblessness.

“Our economy is in a strong position. We've got growth. We have a strong consumer sector. We have inflation a bit below target,” Powell said. 

“So, the very, very low and even negative rates that we see around the world would not be appropriate for our country.”

The U.S. economy has remained resilient amid a sharp slowdown in global economic growth, fruitless attempts to ease trade tensions and widespread geopolitical unrest. While business investment, manufacturing and exports have declined through the year, the U.S. still maintains a low unemployment rate and strong consumer confidence.

Powell on Wednesday said the U.S. should be able to hold steady and extend a record stretch of economic growth. Economists broadly agree that the U.S. faces lower odds of a recession now than when fears spiked over the summer, though new tariffs could quickly change that dynamic.

Trump has already imposed tariffs on more than $350 billion in Chinese goods and is set to levy another round of import taxes on Dec. 15. Economists warn that the pending tariffs on more than $100 billion in essential consumer goods from China could spike prices and hinder vulnerable consumers.