President Donald Trump said he won’t fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, but he blamed the U.S. central bank for the worst stock market sell-off since February.
Trump also told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday morning that he knows monetary policy better than the Federal Reserve’s leaders and continued criticizing them for interest-rate increases.
“I’m not going to fire him,” Trump said of Powell, a Trump appointee who legally can only be fired for cause. “But I think it’s far too stringent far too fast.”
Trump said the market plunge is “a correction that I think is caused by the Federal Reserve.”
Trump repeatedly criticized the Fed over the past 24 hours as markets plunged, saying Wednesday that the central bank was “going loco.” Market analysts, meanwhile, mostly attributed the decline to concerns that Trump’s trade war with China could escalate.
“That’s not the problem,” he said in a telephone interview with Fox News late Wednesday of the trade standoff. “The problem in my opinion is the Fed,” he added. “The Fed is going wild. They’re raising interest rates, and it’s ridiculous.”
The president has been publicly criticizing the central bank since July for interest-rate increases and declared he was “not happy” in September after the third rate hike of the year. But the remarks are a sharp departure from Trump’s recent predecessors. Presidents for more than two decades had avoided public comments on the Fed’s interest-rate policies as a way of demonstrating respect for the institution’s independence.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow sought to downplay Trump’s comments about the Fed.
“He has never attacked the Fed’s plan or strategy,” Kudlow told reporters on the White House lawn Thursday. “He has never interfered with that. He is giving his opinion, and it’s an informed opinion.”