President Donald Trump said Thursday that he would not fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, even as he bashed the central bank even harder.
"I'm not going to fire him," Trump told reporters at the White House. "I'm just disappointed."
The president ramped up his criticism of the mild interest rate increases the central bank made in recent months after stocks dipped Wednesday
"The Fed is out of control, I think what they’re doing is wrong," he said, adding to a string of negative comments over the past few days directed at the Fed.
Trump has blamed the Fed for stock market declines in recent days, saying the central bank had “gone crazy” after raising interest rates multiple times this year. Last month the Fed raised its main lending rate for banks that borrow from it to 2.25 percent, from 2 percent. That rate serves as a baseline for the entire lending industry.
The central bank’s leadership, including Chairman Powell, has signaled through much of this year that it would raise rates closer to a typical range, which interest rates still remain below. The Fed kept rates historically low following the 2008 global financial crisis, when rates were pushed near zero to encourage more borrowing by businesses. Republicans, including Trump on Twitter in 2011, criticized the central bank for keeping rates low for nearly 10 years, arguing that it negatively affected savings for retirees.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow did a media blitz to reassure markets of the Fed’s independence Thursday morning, telling White House reporters and cable news outlets that he agreed with the Fed’s decision-making.
When asked by reporters this morning if he’d told Trump to back off weighing in on monetary policy and the Fed’s actions, Kudlow demurred.
“[T]he advice I give to the president is the advice I give to the president and it’s entirely private,” Kudlow told reporters.
Under law, the president can only fire Fed officials for cause, not for policy disagreements.
Trump has frequently touted the historic strength of the stock market during his presidency, but rising interest rates can negatively affect stock prices, because money becomes more expensive for companies to borrow.
But historically low unemployment has prompted concern that inflation could rise above the Fed's 2 percent target.
Still, the central bank has indicated it plans to take the precautionary step of continuing to gradually raise rates in December and next year in an effort to stave off inflation.
Stocks were mixed midday, with the Nasdaq slightly up and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down less than half a percentage point.