WASHINGTON >> Stepping up his attacks on the Federal Reserve, President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that the Fed is “my biggest threat” because he thinks it’s raising interest rates too quickly.
Trump said he doesn’t speak with Chairman Jerome Powell because of the Fed’s political independence but said, “I’m not happy with what he’s doing because it’s going too fast” in raising rates at a time when inflation has remained relatively low.
Asked about his decision as president to replace Janet Yellen with Powell, Trump said, “Can I be honest, I’m not blaming anybody. I put him there, and maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong, but I put him there.”
Trump made his comments in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan. Critics have expressed concern that his continual attacks on the Fed, which began in the summer, threaten its need to operate free of political pressure from the White House or elsewhere to properly manage interest rate policy.
Last week, in a series of comments, Trump called the Fed “out of control,” although he said in response to a question that he would not seek to oust Powell as chairman.
Those remarks came in a week when the stock market, which Trump has often cited as a barometer for his stewardship of the economy, was plunging. Trump blamed the Fed’s string of rate hikes for the market turmoil.
Under Powell the Fed has been gradually raising rates as the economy has strengthened as a way to prevent a run-up in inflation. The central bank has raised its key policy rate three times this year and is expected to do so again before year’s end.
Trump’s comments Tuesday came on a day when the stock market staged an enormous comeback — its biggest one-day rally in six months — with the Dow Jones industrial average jumping 547 points.