It’s no secret President Trump isn’t happy with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and the rate hikes instituted under his watch. And neither is his top White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who said, “Maybe they acted a little too hastily” in their efforts to stay in front of inflationary pressures by raising rates four times in 2018.
However, that doesn’t mean the administration is trying to be heavy handed with the Fed, according to Kudlow.
“It's our point of view. The Fed is independent...We are not trying to compromise that independence. Never will. I by the way started my whole career at the Fed a long time ago,” said Kudlow during a Q&A session at an event hosted by The Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday.
Even so, Kudlow is advocating for policymakers to cut interest rates. “If I had my druthers, I'd love to see him [Powell] take back 50 basis points,” he said. Kudlow also noted he was misquoted last week during an interview in which he reportedly called for a rate cut “immediately,” adding, “I never did. It was an incorrect report.”
During the Fed’s March meeting, policy makers signaled there would likely be few-to-no rate hikes in 2019, a major pivot from their hawkish position late last year.
Conservative economist Stephen Moore, Trump’s newest Fed board nominee, is calling on the Fed to go a step further. “I would look very carefully at repealing the rate increase that happened in December,” he said during an interview on FOX Business. Additionally on Thursday, reports surfaced that former pizza CEO Hermain Cain is also set to join Moore as one of Trump's Fed nominees.
The rate rhetoric comes as Trump continues to troll policymakers, tweeting on Thursday, “Despite the unnecessary and destructive actions taken by the Fed, the Economy is looking very strong, the China and USMCA deals are moving along nicely, there is little or no Inflation, and USA optimism is very high!”
This is just the latest attack in what has been a steady bullying of the Fed -- both on Twitter and during interviews -- for months. Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump told Powell, “I guess I am stuck with you,” after complaining to advisers and lawmakers about interest rates.
Last month, he also hit the Fed, telling “Mornings With Maria”, in an exclusive interview, “The world is slowing, but we’re not slowing,” adding, “And, frankly, if we didn't have somebody that would raise interest rates and do quantitative tightening, we would have been at over 4 [percent] instead of at 3.1 [percent],” referring to U.S. economic growth, which rose 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter.
Then, in December, he described the Fed as a golfer who “can’t putt” in a Twitter rant.
Amid the bashing, Powell has remained fairly stoic, with the exception of disclosing a steak dinner he attended at the White House, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Vice Chair Richard Clarida, on the eve of the State of the Union speech in January. The foursome discussed the economy, according to the Fed.
Suzanne O'Halloran is Managing Editor of FOXBusiness.com and is a graduate of Boston College. Follow her on Twitter @suzohalloran