- Federal Reserve Chairman responded to months of attacks from President Donald Trump on Friday.
- Powell said at a panel with former Fed chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke that no one from the White House has reached out directly to discuss interest rates.
- Powell also had a blunt answer to a question about whether he would step down in Trump requested his resignation: “No.”
- Trump is furious with Powell over the Fed’s recent interest rate hikes, according to reports, and has considered trying to fire the Fed Chairman. The legality of such a firing is questionable at best.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is not letting President Donald Trump’s constant attacks faze him.
During a Friday panel discussion with Powell’s predecessors – former Fed chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke – Powell brushed off Trump’s bombardments and flatly rejected the idea of resigning at the president’s request.
In recent months, Trump has bashed Powell’s management of the Fed and called the central bank’s rate hikes “loco,” “crazy”, and the “biggest threat to the economy.” But despite constant public protestations from the president, Powell said no one from the White House has made contact.
“Have you received anything direct from the White House about unhappiness with the path of rates or discussion of any change in your job?” asked Neil Irwin, a reporter from the new York Times and the panel moderator.
“No, no I have not,” Powell responded. “I have no news for you on that front.”
Powell also declined to expand on reports that Trump was considering a face-to-face meeting with the chairman, only saying that presidents and Fed chairs do meet from time to time.
In addition to Trump’s obvious displeasure with the rate hikes, there have been multiple reports that the president considered firing Powell, despite the legality of such a move being questionable at best. Powell’s most blunt answer came when Irwin asked if the Fed chair would step down in the event Trump requests his resignation.
“No,” Powell said.
Trump attacks on the central bank have concerned former Fed officials and economists, since the history of presidential interference in monetary policy is not great. Most famously, President Richard Nixon pressured Fed Chairman Arthur Burns to keep interest rates low prior to the 1972 election, which some experts say contributed to the stagflation of the 1970s.
On Friday, both Yellen and Bernanke criticized Trump’s constant attacks on Powell and reiterated the Fed’s independence.