Trump Raises Concerns about High Interest Rates and Potential Pressure on Powell as Fed Chair

Former President Trump Criticizes High Interest Rates and Discusses Potential Pressure on Federal Reserve Chair Powell

Former President Donald Trump expressed concern about high interest rates and hinted at potentially pressuring Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to ease monetary policy if he were to be reelected.

In an upcoming interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump also implied that he might consider replacing Powell.

During the interview with host Kristen Welker, Trump stated, “Interest rates are very high. They’re too high. People can’t buy homes. They can’t do anything. I mean, they can’t borrow money.”

When asked if he would try to persuade Powell to lower rates, Trump responded, “It depends on where inflation is. But I would work on reducing inflation.”

A History of Conflict

These remarks reflect the tense relationship between Trump and Powell during Trump’s presidency from 2017-2021.

Trump frequently criticized Fed officials, including calling them “boneheads” and comparing Powell to “a golfer who can’t putt,” particularly as the Fed raised interest rates in 2018 and 2019.

Trump stated, “I did put a lot of pressure on him. It was external pressure, as nobody knows if you can really do that, but I did it because I believed his interest rates were too high. And he eventually lowered them.”

Indeed, the Fed began cutting rates in 2019, eventually bringing its benchmark borrowing rate close to zero when the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020.

It’s worth noting that Trump appointed Powell, who was confirmed in 2018, to succeed Janet Yellen, who later became Treasury secretary under President Joe Biden.

When asked if he would consider replacing Powell if reelected in 2024, Trump gave an ambiguous response, saying, “Well, I guess he would have two years left or something like that, so we’ll see.”

Trump emphasized his efforts to influence Powell, stating, “I did a lot of jawboning against him, and he ultimately lowered interest rates. We had lower interest rates. We had the best housing market ever. We had people buying homes. However, things aren’t going well for consumers right now. Bacon prices have increased fivefold, and the cost of food is rising even more than energy.”

Targeting Inflation

Inflation has become a significant issue during the Biden administration after remaining low under both Trump and Barack Obama.

The consumer price index has risen over 16% in just over two and a half years of the Biden presidency, while it increased by less than half that amount during Trump’s entire term.

Economists generally agree that the groundwork for higher prices was laid in the early days of the Covid crisis when supply chains were disrupted, consumer demand shifted from services to goods, and Congress and the Fed injected trillions of dollars in stimulus to mitigate the pandemic’s economic impact.

Trump promised to address inflation, stating, “I would work on reducing inflation because it is crucial. We will drill for oil again, regain energy independence, and decrease our debt by becoming energy dominant.”

The Fed’s upcoming meeting is expected to maintain steady rates. Powell’s term as Federal Reserve Chair expires in February 2026.

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