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Trump says he plans to keep pressure on Fed over rates

Updated June 14, 2019 - 10:31 am

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he has no intention of ending his public attacks on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies even though he knows he has made Chairman Jerome Powell’s job more difficult.

Trump told ABC News in an interview released Friday that he thinks economic growth and stock market indexes would be substantially higher if the chairman “wouldn’t have raised interest rates so much.” The Fed raised rates four times last year. But Powell has signaled that the Fed is prepared to cut rates should it decide that Trump’s trade war with China threatened the economic expansion.

The Fed has long sought to operate free of political influence to maintain its credibility as the world’s leading central bank. Powell, whom Trump elevated to chairman, has said before that he wouldn’t resign despite pressure from Trump.

In the ABC interview, which will air Sunday, Trump is asked if he was concerned that his public attacks on Powell were inappropriate and were putting the Fed chairman “in a box.”

“I’m gonna do it anyway because I’ve waited long enough,” Trump said. “If he did the interest rate increases half as much, if he didn’t do tightening,” the economy would be growing faster and the stock market would be higher.

In an earlier interview this week with CNBC, Trump lamented that he had to deal with a Fed that is “very destructive to us” and suggested that President Xi Jinping of China was much luckier because Xi essentially controls his country’s central bank.

Four of the Fed’s five current board members are Trump nominees, and two vacancies on the seven-member board are available for the president to fill.

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