President Donald Trump on Wednesday flayed the chairman of the Federal Reserve, mocking Jerome Powell’s insistence that he won’t bow to political pressure when determining monetary policy.
“We have a man that doesn’t do anything for us,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria,” contrasting Powell’s decision to hike interest rates with the policies of places like China and Europe.
Trump has repeatedly hammered Powell over his rate hikes, prompting the Federal Reserve chairman to say in a speech on Tuesday that he would resist the political pressure emanating from the White House and the president’s Twitter feed.
A day after Trump accused Powell of acting like a “stubborn child” for not cutting interest rates last week, Powell defended the central bank’s insulation from politics — a signature facet of the U.S. financial system — saying that Congress aimed to avoid “the damage that often arises when policy bends to short-term political interests.”
Trump argued to host Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday that Powell “should’ve never raised the [interest] rates to the level that he raised them,” complaining that the Fed was constraining economic growth. And when Bartiromo brought up Powell’s remarks, the president responded with ridicule.
“So now he’s trying to prove how tough he is because ‘he’s not gonna get pushed around,’” Trump said mockingly. “Here’s a guy — nobody ever heard of him before, and now, I made him, and he wants to show how tough he is.”
And though Powell has halted rate hikes for the time being, saying last week that the Fed stands ready to cut rates, Trump continued to ratchet up his criticism. “Let him show how tough he is — he’s not doing a good job,” Trump said, adding that he was being “nice about it.”
Trump constantly complains that Powell has not pursued the easy money policies employed by countries like China, claiming that Beijing devalues its currency to keep the U.S. from negotiating trade deals on a level playing field.
His frequent criticisms have fueled rumors that Trump may try to fire or demote Powell, something he denied Wednesday even as he insisted he has the right to do so.
“I have the right to demote him, I have the right to fire him,” Trump said.
He then said the Fed is doing the opposite of what the European Central Bank under President Mario Draghi is doing and joked: “We should have Draghi instead of our Fed person.”
Draghi, whose term at the ECB ends on Oct. 31, earlier this month said that if the eurozone’s economic situation deteriorates in the coming months the bank would announce further stimulus measures.
The euro dropped 0.2 percent against the dollar within minutes of Draghi’s remarks, which caught the attention of Trump, who tweeted: “Mario Draghi just announced more stimulus could come, which immediately dropped the Euro against the Dollar, making it unfairly easier for them to compete against the USA. They have been getting away with this for years, along with China and others.”
Shortly after Trump added: “European Markets rose on comments (unfair to U.S.) made today by Mario D!”