Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Trump's Fed criticism prompts fears he's questioning bank's independence

Trump MAGA hat Jae C. Hong AP Images
Russell Knight | 20 July, 2018, 22:23

Artjom Hatsaturjants, research analyst at Accendo Markets, said "market sentiment soured on President Trump criticising the Fed for hiking rates and threatening to go "whole hog" on imposing tariffs on all $500 billion of Chinese imports to the USA, further inflaming global trade tensions and putting at risk central bank independence".

"I'm ready to go 500", the Republican leader told the USA network CNBC, referring to the US$505.5 billion (RM2 trillion) in Chinese imports accepted into the United States in 2017.

"Now I'm just saying the same thing that I would have said as a private citizen", he said.

US President Donald Trump stepped up attacks on China and the European Union on Friday, accusing them of manipulating their national currencies and interest rates. That episode ultimately triggered runaway inflation that took a decade to tame and required raising the Fed's policy rate above 15 per cent - more than eight times the rate's current average.

Later, in a statement, the White House said Trump respects the Fed's independence and is not interfering with its policy decisions.

The Federal Reserve was constructed early in the 20th century to be an independent financial institution, free from the whims of politics.

"I am not happy about it". Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary, and Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, both echoed Feroli's comments in social media posts in the aftermath of the interview. "I want them to do well", he said of China. On Thursday, Trump said he is "not thrilled" about Fed interest rate hikes.

In an apparent reference to Fed rate increases, Trump added, "Tightening now hurts all that we have done".

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Trump's comments are facing criticism.

In February, Jerome Powell, Trump's hand-picked choice, became Fed chairperson.

"We think the devaluation is on goal", Carl Weinberg, chief global economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a client note regarding China's latest currency change.

"Currency is now part of the trade war folks", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

"China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower, while the U.S.is raising rates while the dollars gets stronger and stronger with each passing day - taking away our big competitive edge", Trump tweeted early Friday.

The Fed has been slowly raising interest rates since December 2015 in an effort to avoid overheating the USA economy.

Trump had earlier threatened to target up to $550 billion in Chinese products - a figure that exceeds the $524 billion in goods and services China actually shipped to the United States previous year.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump was highly critical of the Fed and accused its policymakers of keeping rates at ultralow levels to favour Democrats.

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