Mar 10, 2019

Fed chair Jerome Powell denies Trump influenced interest rate decisions

In an interview with CBS' 60 minutes, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that President Trump's criticism of the the central bank and its interest rate hikes played no role in the Fed's recent decisions to hold off on raising interest rates further.

The big picture: The Fed's seemingly sudden shift to pause on further interest rate hikes came after Trump's unprecedented string of negative comments about Powell and the Fed hiking rates under his leadership — stoking concerns that Trump had influenced the apolitical central bank.

The exchange:

Scott Pelley: You were raising interest rates at the end of last year and just in the beginning of 2019. The president sounded off on that. And you stopped raising interest rates. Was it because of pressure from the White House and the President?
Powell: Not at all. Not at all. And it's very important that the public understand that we are always going to make decisions based on what we think is right for the American people .... We will never, ever take political considerations into effect. This is a strong institution, which has a strong culture, which is as I've described it.

Other highlights: Powell also said that the president does not have the legal authority to fire him, something lawyers and fed-watchers have debated. He also said he "fully intends" to serve his four-year term.

  • Powell also reiterated his concern about the U.S. national debt, saying he feels like he "has a duty to speak up" when something "threatens the overall economy."
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