Fed chair’s job is not in jeopardy, White House economic adviser says

Ann Santiago
December 29, 2018

"I am highly confident that the president is very happy with Secretary Mnuchin", Mr Hassett told Fox Business Network. Then on Monday, Trump fired off another tweet criticizing Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, reigniting fears that Trump would try to fire Powell.

With investors bruised by the stock market's worst week in seven years, President Trump and Treasury chief Steve Mnuchin have spent recent days trying to ease concerns on Wall Street - with the partial government shutdown as an inconvenient backdrop.

After the call, the secretary issued a statement publicly declaring that the markets have enough liquidity for lending.

Trump shifted his criticism again to the Fed, saying it "raised the interest rates too fast, that's my opinion".

Two sources previously told CNN that Trump had begun polling advisers on whether he has the legal authority to fire Powell.

Asked whether Trump is continuing to blame the Fed for the volatility in the markets, Hassett said his job is to "respect the independence of the Fed and not comment on monetary policy".

US President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone as he answers calls from people calling into the NORAD Santa tracker phone line in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 24, 2018. Yet much of the gains in equities since his election have been been erased by months of turmoil, as investors grow increasingly concerned about the impact of the administration's trade battles with China and Europe.

U.S. stocks edged up on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 up 0.2 per cent in late morning trading.

Oil inched higher in Asian trade after crude-producing nations said they expect prices will arrest their recent slide and rebalance early next year, when a deal on new production cuts takes effect.

At the same time in Washington, Mnuchin aides have been scrambling to find economic data to help their boss calm Trump down, but Trump was said to be unhappy with what Mnuchin was telling him, this source said.

Investors have many reasons to worry. USA government debt is approaching $22 trillion.

Despite the government being partially shutdown, Mnuchin left - as planned - for a holiday vacation in Cabo San Lucas. The president's musings about firing Powell and the abrupt departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis add to the sense of turbulence.

Unlike others Trump has cut loose, the president goes way back with Mnuchin, 56, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner and movie financier who served as Trump's chief campaign fund-raiser.

The United States treasury secretary has on Monday, called the chief executive officers (CEOs) of six biggest banks of the U.S. and organized plans to summon a "plunge protection team", amid the USA government partial shutdown.

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