There’s some tension in Washington, D.C., and it’s not between the Democrats and the Republicans; rather it's between the president of the United States and the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
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Before you say “Hooray!” think about the precarious position the president is putting the Fed in. Now, I’m generally not a big fan of the Fed. In fact, there are times I wonder why we even need a bunch of academics trying to control liquidity in our marketplace. But, I’ve always respected the independence of the Fed.
In the real world, the Fed should act as a kind of backstop to an inefficient Washington. If the president doesn’t have a clue on the economy and offers nothing in the way of meaningful economic policy, then the Fed is there to help ease the pain. Barack Obama was so bad when it came to economics that Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen had no choice but to serve up lower and lower interest rates.
But this president understands the power of fiscal stimulus! He gets that lower taxes result in more prosperity for all and that knowledge of his has paid off with lower unemployment levels, higher wages and stronger growth rates.
But he wants to have his cake and eat it, too. He wants the Fed to keep the spigot open. He wants the Fed to keep rates low. He told me in an interview in October, “My biggest threat is the Fed because the Fed is raising rates too fast and it's independent so I don't speak to them, but I'm not happy with what he's doing because it's going too fast. Because you looked at the last inflation numbers, they are very low.”
So he’s right on one thing – so far, so good. No inflation. And I’m with him. The Fed was not in the position to keep hiking rates last October.
But today? The talk is of lowering them!
Record growth, record employment and the Fed wants to lower rates?
It seems to me there are some Fed governors who are more concerned with keeping their jobs as we head into an election year than with managing employment and inflation in our economy.
Remember guys: church and state. And that goes for you, too, President Trump. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on the Fed. Let the Fed do its job and you do yours.