Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that despite reports that President Donald Trump was looking to demote or fire him, he doesn’t plan on leaving the central bank anytime soon.
“I think the law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” Powell said at a news conference in Washington.
Asked later in the conference when might be appropriate to publicly address Trump’s criticism, Powell said that he doesn’t “discuss elected officials publicly or privately.”
“At the Fed, we’re deeply committed to carrying out our mission and also that our independence from direct political control we see as an important institutional feature that has served both the economy and the country well,” he said.
Powell’s comments came a day after reports that the White House had explored the possibility of “legally demoting” the Fed chief after the central bank tightened monetary policy.
Asked by reporters on Tuesday if he still wanted to relegate Powell, Trump told reporters, “Let’s see what he does.” The president has bemoaned Fed policy for undermining his aggressive trade negotiation tactics with China as well as for dampening GDP and financial market outlook.
Trump said last week that both the economy and stock market could both be doing better “if we had somebody different” in charge of the central bank.
President Donald Trump looks on as his nominee for the chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell takes to the podium during a press event in the Rose Garden at the White House, November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.
The president said at that time that GDP would be 1.5 percentage points higher had the Fed not enacted rate increases and “quantitative tightening.” He added that the stock market would be 10,000 points higher, presumably a reference to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
“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 in an interview with ABC News.
But Trump’s attacks on the Fed and Powell — whom he appointed to lead the central bank — are nothing new, but still exceptional. Prior presidents have been less vocal in public about their disagreements with the path of monetary policy, thought to be independent of political pressure.
Trump has knocked his central bank consistently over the past year, saying in October that “the Fed is making a mistake.”
“The Fed is going wild. I mean, I don’t know what their problem is that they are raising interest rates and it’s ridiculous,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News in October. “The problem [causing the market drop] in my opinion is Treasury and the Fed. The Fed is going loco and there’s no reason for them to do it. I’m not happy about it.”