Mon, Dec 24, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Mnuchin reassures markets Trump will not sack Fed chair


US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington on Dec. 19.

Photo: AFP

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Saturday moved to reassure financial markets that US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell would not be ousted, after a report said US President Donald Trump has repeatedly discussed firing the central bank chief.

Mnuchin said in a pair of tweets that he had spoken with the US president about the matter and quoted Trump as saying that he did not believe he had the authority to remove the central bank chief.

Key lawmakers and market strategists spent the day urging Trump not to act against Powell.

Mnuchin’s tweets followed a brief, less-definitive statement three hours earlier from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said she was not “aware” of “any plans” to remove Powell.

“I have spoken with the President @realDonaldTrump and he said ‘I totally disagree with Fed policy. I think the increasing of interest rates and the shrinking of the Fed portfolio is an absolute terrible thing to do at this time,... especially in light of my major trade negotiations which are ongoing, but I never suggested firing Chairman Jay Powell, nor do I believe I have the right to do so,’” Mnuchin quoted Trump as saying in a two-part tweet.

The White House had otherwise been silent for 18 hours since Bloomberg News reported the discussions.

Trump, a prolific tweeter, did not address Powell’s fate.

He has discussed firing Powell many times in the past few days as his frustration with the central banker intensified following Wednesday’s interest rate increase and intensifying stock market losses, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg reported late on Friday that advisers close to Trump were not convinced that he would move against Powell, and were hoping the US president’s anger would dissipate over the holidays.

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