President Donald Trump renewed his criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a recent interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, saying the economy and stock market both could be doing much better “if we had somebody different” in charge of the central bank.
The president predicted that GDP would be 1.5 percentage points higher had Powell and his fellow central bankers not enacted rate increases and “quantitative tightening.” In addition, he said the stock market would be 10,000 points higher, presumably a reference to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was at 26,106 heading into Friday trading.
“If he did nothing, or perhaps even loosened, we would be in my opinion, just an opinion, 10,000 points higher than already a very high number,” Trump said. The number implies a potential 38% increase for a bluechip average, or about double the gain it already has seen since the November 2016 election.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Powell, whom he named to the post in early 2018, and has said openly that he believes the Fed should be cutting interest rates. Previous presidents have taken on Fed chairs before, but rarely in such a public fashion.
“He’s my pick and I disagree with him entirely,” Trump said. “As you know, it’s independent. … But I’m not happy with what he’s done.”
Under Powell’s tenure, the Fed raised its benchmark overnight interest rate four times in 2018 and had intended to hike twice more in 2019 before making a policy pivot earlier this year.
In addition to the rate hikes, the Fed has reduced its balance sheet by about $600 billion by allowing proceeds to roll off from the bonds it acquired during three rounds of quantitative easing. Trump defined the process as “taking money out of the tills so that people can’t use it for doing what they’re doing.”
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The Fed is currently unwinding the balance sheet runoff and will stop it entirely in September.
Trump said “it’s OK to raise interest rates a little bit” but said doing so now makes the nation’s $22 trillion debt more expensive. The debt has increased 10.3% during Trump’s 2½ years in office after soaring nearly 88% under former President Barack Obama.