Apr 8, 2019

The Federal Reserve is already full of Trump's picks

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

It's a strange Trumpian irony that the president is so upset with the Federal Reserve, because he picked many of its current members.

Why it matters: If officially nominated and confirmed, pundit Stephen Moore and former CEO and presidential candidate Herman Cain would put 6 Trump nominees out of 12 voting members on the Federal Open Market Committee. But his previous nominees haven't been like Moore and Cain.

Trump replaced Janet Yellen, known as a policy dove who favored lower U.S. interest rates, with Jerome Powell, a lawyer with significant Fed experience who was considered more of a rate hiking hawk.

  • Trump also replaced outgoing vice chair Stanley Fischer with Richard Clarida and has already nominated Randal Quarles, Marvin Goodfriend, Nellie Liang and Michelle Bowman to the Fed. (Goodfriend's nomination expired when the last Congress expired and Liang removed herself from consideration.)

"Trump so far has picked a moderate as Fed chair, and the rest of his nominees include two hawks, one unknown, and one moderate dove," Adam Ozimek, an economist at Moody's wrote last year when Trump first began making the case for lower rates. "If you wanted rates to stay lower for longer, why would your nominees look like this?"

The big picture: All of them are well-respected economic professionals, and normally that would be enough.

  • "If Trump were a normal president, appointing highly regarded individuals who can ensure effective policy making would be business as usual," Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard and a previous IMF chief economist, wrote in 2018.
  • "But here is a president who has often chosen officials with little government experience, and then seems to task them with creating the most disruption possible in the departments they are selected to run."

So, why the change? I suspect it's because Trump doesn't understand monetary policy but realizes the economy isn't going to grow the way he promised on the campaign trail and may even fall into recession, so he's setting the Fed up as a scapegoat.

The bottom line... Axios' Jonathan Swan tells me via email that it's much simpler: "People close to the president say Trump is pissed at Powell and views the Powell-led Fed as the biggest threat to markets and the economy. So he’s throwing some bombs into the building."

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.