Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press at the Iowa Pork Producers booth during the 2023 Iowa State Fair at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, August 12, 2023.

Demetrius Freeman | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump complained that interest rates were too high and suggested that if he were to serve another term, he might pressure Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to ease monetary policy.

In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump also suggested he would at least consider ousting Powell.

“Interest rates are very high. They are too high. People Can’t Buy Houses -ongoing talk show. Welker replaces Chuck Todd, who hosted his final show last week.

Asked specifically by Welker whether he would try to get Powell to cut rates, Trump said: “Depends on where the inflation is. But I would lower inflation.”

A story of conflict

The comments stem from the contentious relationship the two officials had when Trump was in office from 2017 to 2021.

On the platform formerly known as Twitter, Trump frequently insulted Fed officials, once calling them “blocks” and comparing Powell to “a golfer who can’t putt.” These comments came as the Fed raised interest rates in 2018 and 2019.

“We know I’m putting a lot of pressure on him,” Trump told Welker. “It was pressure from outside because no one knows whether you can really do it or not, but I did it because I thought his interest rates were too high. And he ended up lowering his interest rates.”

In fact, the Fed began cutting rates in 2019 and eventually cut its key interest rate to near zero when the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020.

Trump’s criticism of the Fed came even as he named Powell, who was confirmed in 2018, to succeed Janet Yellen, who later became Treasury secretary under President Joe Biden.

Asked whether he might try to replace Powell if he is re-elected in 2024, Trump responded.

“Well, I think he’d have another two years or something like that, so we’ll see,” he said.

“Do you know the word “crack”? I railed against him a lot and he ended up lowering interest rates. We had lower interest rates. We had the best real estate market ever. We had people buying houses,” he added. “Things are not going particularly well for consumers at the moment. The price of bacon has increased fivefold. The price of food is terrible, worse than energy.”

“I would lower inflation”

Inflation has been a major problem during the Biden administration after remaining benign under Trump and, before that, Barack Obama.

The consumer price index has risen more than 16% in just over two and a half years of the Biden presidency; During Trump’s entire presidency, the increase was less than half that.

But economists widely agree that the foundation for higher prices was laid in the early days of the Covid crisis, when supply chains froze, consumer demand shifted from services to goods, and Congress and the Fed injected trillions of dollars in stimulus to help to combat the economic impact of the pandemic.

Trump promised to reduce inflation.

“I would lower inflation because we have to drill. We’re going to drill for oil. We will become energy independent again. We will reduce our debt because we will also become dominant in the energy sector,” he said.

The Fed meets next week and is expected to keep interest rates stable. Powell’s term ends in February 2026.

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