Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell says he will not resign if Trump asks him to

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) – Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Friday (Jan 4) that President Donald Trump has not tried to fire him and that he would not resign from his position if Trump asked him to do so.

Trump has repeatedly blamed Powell for the market decline and the dimming outlook for the US economy this year and next.

“No. I have no news for you on that,” Powell said at the American Economic Association annual meeting when he was asked whether Trump had tried to remove him as Fed chief. Trump nominated Powell for the position in late 2017.

When asked if he would resign, Powell said simply, “No.”

The Fed chair also said that no meeting has been scheduled so far with Trump, although he indicated he would be willing to meet with the president.

“I can’t think of any Fed chairs who didn’t eventually meet with the president,” Powell said in a panel alongside former Fed chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke.

Trump has lashed out at the Fed publicly and privately, accusing the central bank of raising interest rates too quickly and causing the recent stock market rout.

Trump fears the Fed is hurting his reelection chance in 2020 by slowing the economy, and he has asked whether he can fire Powell.

Such a move would stun the financial system and appears unlikely since Fed governors can only be removed “for cause,” which courts have interpreted as criminal wrongdoing, not policy disagreements with the president.

Fed leaders have repeatedly said the central bank is independent of politics and that Trump plays no role in their decision-making process.

“We have a strong culture. It’s not a fragile one. It’s not subject to being disrupted,” Powelll said.

The Fed recently cut its forecast for growth in 2019 to 2.3 per cent (down from 2.5 per cent) as concerns grow about the stock market correction and the slowdown in China and Europe dragging down the US economy.

But Fed leaders still insist that is above trend and very healthy growth.

Powell’s optimism was bolstered Friday when the Labour Department announced the economy added 312,000 jobs in December, blowing out expectations and capping the best year of job growth since 2015.

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