Oct 28, 2018

Flashback: How Trump changed his tune about Fed chair Powell

Trump and Powell in November 2017. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump has publicly criticized Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell six times for raising interest rates.

Flashback: Nearly one year ago, Trump struck a very different tone when nominating Powell:

"If we are to sustain all of this tremendous economic progress, our economy requires sound monetary policy ... That is why we need strong, sound, and steady leadership at the United States Federal Reserve. I have nominated Jay [Powell] to be our next Federal [Reserve] Chairman ... because he will provide exactly that type of leadership."

What's changed since then is that the Fed hiked interest rates, but Trump had to see it coming.

  • When Powell was confirmed by the Senate, the Fed had already upped rates five times since 2015.
  • Even before Powell officially took office, central bankers had indicated more hikes were coming.

Then-candidate Trump criticized prior Fed chair Janet Yellen for not raising rates.

  • In a 2016 CNBC interview, Trump accused Yellen of being politically motivated, keeping interest rates too low for too long, and creating a "false stock market."
  • Now Trump blames the Powell Fed‘s rate hikes for market volatility, even though rates still remain very low by historical standards.

The bottom line: Trump does not plan to stop criticizing Powell, as Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported, but he's walking into a lose-lose. Either the Fed will continue to raise rates, thus reaffirming its independence from the White House, or it will slow those raises because it believes the economy is slowing down.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
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Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief presents a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Trump speak during a briefing on April 1. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recommended on Thursday that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders, at a CNN town hall.

Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.

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