Mnuchin doesn't think Fed's Powell is 'wrong person', despite Trump criticism

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin doesn’t think Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is the wrong person for the top job at the U.S. central bank, despite sometimes fierce criticism from President Trump.

“I don’t feel like I picked the wrong person, but I respect the president’s views and his views of the economy, where he’s had tremendous insight,” Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday.

Trump has blamed Mnuchin for recommending Powell for the top Fed job. “Mnuchin gave me this guy,” he complained at one point, according to the Wall Street Journal. The president also reportedly told Powell “I guess I’m stuck with you,” during a recent phone conversation.

The president blames the U.S. central bank for raising interest rates, which he argues has hurt economic growth, and has said that he’s “not even a little happy” with Powell. Trump attacked the Fed chair again on Wednesday, telling reporters “maybe we should have a different Federal Reserve chairman who didn’t raise interest rates.”

Last week, Trump said the economy would take off like a “rocket ship” if the Fed ended its monetary tightening policy and lowered borrowing rates.

“I think they should drop rates and get rid of quantitative tightening,” Trump told reporters. “You would see a rocket ship. Despite that we’re doing very well.”

Now, in what some critics think is a threat to the Fed’s independence, Trump said he wants to appoint former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and conservative economic analyst Stephen Moore to the Fed’s seven-member board.

But Mnuchin denied that the presence of two of Trump’s close political allies on the board would affect the Fed’s independence.


“I don’t think there’s any reason whatsoever to be concerned about the independence of the Fed,” Mnuchin said. “They will go through the normal Senate confirmation process. If and when these people are confirmed, I’m sure that they will have the responsibilities on the Fed board, as do all the other Fed board members, to uphold the mandate of the Fed.”