Mar 24, 2020 - Economy & Business

Trump says Fed chairman is doing a "good job" amid coronavirus crisis

Trump and Powell in 2017. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump said Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has "really stepped up," offering rare praise during a press conference on Monday.

Why it matters: It marks a big shift in Trump's tone on Powell — who he's bashed for months — after a series of measures announced by the Fed in recent days to ease the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

"I am happy with [Powell]. ... I really think he’s caught up. He’s really stepped up over the last week. I called him today and I said, ‘Jerome, good job.’”
— President Trump

Of note: Trump told reporters the two men spoke via phone on Monday. The Federal Reserve on Monday night wouldn't comment on whether the phone call happened.

  • Despite the central bank's apolitical nature, it's normal for presidents to occasionally speak with their Fed chairs, particularly in times of crisis.
  • Powell and Trump have spoken several times before, though Trump's public criticism offered an unprecedented backdrop for these conversations.

Context: Trump's praise for Powell comes as the economy could see extremely high unemployment rates and a sharp drop-off in GDP growth from efforts to stop the coronavirus outbreak.

  • A day before the Fed took one of the biggest steps to date to help the economy, Trump said he wasn't happy with Powell and threatened he had the power to demote him, but he hadn't "made any decisions on that." (Experts are split on whether the president has the power to remove the Fed chair, and it's unclear if a demotion would be effective.)
  • The comments echoed Trump's months-long calls for the central bank to lower interest rates, despite the strong economy he touted.

The bottom line: The Fed has acted swiftly to reinstate 2008 financial crisis measures to ease the economic pain from the coronavirus. It's won approval from Trump — though the Fed has repeatedly said it doesn't take criticism from the White House into consideration.

  • "[Powell's] not finished. He's got other arrows in the quiver, or whatever they say, he's got plenty of arrows," Trump told reporters, referring to more actions the Fed could take to help the economy.

Go deeper

Updated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,945,737— Total deaths: 365,368 — Total recoveries — 2,515,675Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,747,087 — Total deaths: 102,836 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Supreme Court: Chief Justice Roberts sides with liberals in denying challenge to California's pandemic worship rules.
  4. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March.
  5. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  6. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.

Deaths without consequences

Community organizations and activists demand police accountability at a rally in Grand Central Terminal to commemorate the 5-year anniversary of Mike Brown's death by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Photo: Erik McGregor/Getty Images

Seven years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officers to be charged in the deaths of African Americans — and even more rare for an officer to go to jail.

The big picture: The Minneapolis police officer who was captured on video kneeling on George Floyd's neck has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter — which is already a step beyond the consequences other police officers have faced. But it's no guarantee that he will face jail time.

Teenager killed after shots fired at protesters in Detroit

Detroit police during protests on Friday night. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

A 19-year-old man was killed on Friday night after shots were fired into a crowd of demonstrators in downtown Detroit who were protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, per AP.

Details: The teenager was injured when shots were fired from an SUV about 11:30 p.m. and later died in hospital, reports MDN reports, which noted police were still looking for a suspect. Police said officers were not involved in the shooting, according to AP.

Go deeper: In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd