Trump shifts tone, says he's 'proud' of Fed amid coronavirus turmoil

Trump shifts tone, says he's 'proud' of Fed amid coronavirus turmoil
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE on Monday said he was “proud” of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's handling of the economic turmoil brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, backing down from more than a year of criticizing his hand-picked Fed chief and threatening his job security.

Trump praised Powell during a Monday evening briefing at the White House after the Fed that morning drastically expanded its efforts to protect the U.S. economy and financial markets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I really think he's caught up and he's done the right thing, and I think, ultimately, we will be rewarded because of the decision he made,” Trump said. 

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“He's really stepped up over the last week,” the president continued, adding that he called the Fed chairman to say, “Jerome, you've done a really good job.”

A Fed spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced Monday it would purchase an unlimited number of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to bolster the economy as businesses across the country shutter. 

While Powell chairs the FOMC, he doesn’t not make these decisions alone and must win support from other FOMC members. The Fed’s Monday actions were approved unanimously by the FOMC.

The Fed will also roll out new facilities to purchase corporate and consumer debt and a program to offer loans to small and medium-sized businesses.

The Fed’s actions were the latest and most drastic steps down an unprecedented path of intervention in the U.S. economy and financial system amid the deadly pandemic. The central bank has also zeroed out its baseline interest rate range and has offered trillions of dollars in short-term loans to banks to help keep credit flowing to households and businesses.

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“I was proud of him. That took courage, and, ultimately, you're going to see the fruits,” Trump said. “Now, he's not finished. I mean, he's got other arrows in the quiver or whatever they say. I will tell you he's got plenty of arrows, but, no, I'm very happy with the job he did.”

Trump’s praise for Powell marks a breakthrough in the president’s attitude toward the Fed and its chairman, whom he nominated to the job in October 2017.

Trump had blasted the Fed throughout 2018 and the start of 2019 for raising interest rates while the economy set 50-year lows in unemployment and enjoyed solid growth. The president then called on the Fed to slash interest rates to 0 percent to match those of less prosperous nations abroad despite the relative strength of the U.S. economy.

Economists had fiercely criticized Trump for pressuring the Fed into crisis-era stimulus while the economy remained strong and have largely been supportive of the Fed’s aggressive steps to staunch job losses and bankruptcies. 

Updated at 8:43 p.m.