US president Donald Trump has publicly criticised the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate increases. “I’m not thrilled,” Trump told CNBC. He complained that Fed chairman Jerome Powell’s plans for more interest-rate increases risk upsetting the booming economy. Two more quarter-point increases are expected this year. They would raise the benchmark rate to 2.25%-2.5%.
Markets often wobble when the leader of a country attacks the central bank. The worry is that necessary monetary tightening might be put off, raising the prospect of a nastier slowdown later. And because low interest rates stoke inflation and investors’ expectations of future inflation, bond prices and the currency can fall too.
On this occasion, however, financial markets shrugged the comments off. Jerome Powell’s job may have “got a lot harder”, says William Watts on MarketWatch. But investors appear confident that Trump’s criticism of the Fed won’t alter the central bank’s policy path.
The main reason to think not, says Gina Chon on Breakingviews, is that Powell’s “political savvy has earned bipartisan praise”. Unlike his predecessor, who often retreated behind “technical jargon”, he has charmed lawmakers on both sides of America’s political divide. This will temper the impact of Trump’s attacks. Powell “may have a powerful adversary, but he also has powerful friends”.