Thursday, 15 November, 2018

New Fed vice chair signals more rate hikes ahead despite Trump attacks

Trump says he 'maybe' regrets making Powell Fed chairman Trump, citing interest rate hikes, says he 'maybe' regrets nominating Fed boss Powell
Orlando Vargas | 27 October, 2018, 16:01

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell intensified his outreach to USA lawmakers over the summer, a review of his public calendar shows, even as President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on the Fed and on Powell himself. Powell "almost looks like he's happy raising interest rates". Powell's four-year term started in February, and when asked if he regrets nominating Powell to the post, Trump responded, "too early to say, but maybe".

The Fed's current take on the economy is that GDP growth will hit 3.1 percent for the year, but I the long-term, that growth is expected to slow to 2 percent, and then further after 2021.

And everyone will note the unsafe similarity to Turkey, where President Erdogan has repeatedly referred to interest rate his as the work of the devil, resisting them entirely until very recently and even appointing his son-in-law to head the ministry of finance to give him control over the central bank. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, declined to comment about whether he's pleased with Powell.

President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, saying he "maybe" regrets appointing him. In August, he said the risks were two-fold: 1) "moving too fast and needlessly shortening the expansion" and 2) "moving too slowly and risking a destabilizing overheating".

This outlook is in line with comments by Powell and the policy setting committee. "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 and I do think the Fed has a strong reputation for acting in an independent and non-political way and I would not like to see that reputation damaged".

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"Changes in financial conditions are something that is relevant for the economic outlook", and need to be accounted for "if they are sustained", he said. Trump has previously called Fed policies "crazy". Trump had also attacked the bank last week when the share prices of USA plunged suddenly. He later said during a telephone interview on Fox News that the central bank was "going loco" for raising rates.

He pointed out how the central bank kept interest rates at zero during the last administration, but they have raised the rate three times this year alone. Officials are signaling that they will likely act again in December and continue to increase in 2019.

The fed funds rate target is now 1.75 percent to 2 percent, and that is the rate closely tied to consumer debt, particularly credit cards, home equity lines and other adjustable-rate loans.

Trump's criticisms mark a departure from the practices of his recent predecessors. But the courts ruled in a case decades ago involving the Federal Trade Commission that this language has to involve more than a policy disagreement between the president and the Fed.

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