President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he's "not thrilled" with the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates. "As usual, not a level playing field", Trump tweeted. China has so far met US tariffs with equal retaliatory tariffs, but with only $130 billion in USA goods exported to China, it's not possible for President Xi Jinping it to match tariffs on a half-trillion dollars of products. "And China, their currency is dropping like a rock and our currency is going up and I have to tell you, it puts us at a disadvantage".
The issue also ties into the Trump administration's current trade battles with China, Europe and others, as a strong currency tends to make a country's exports more expensive, hurting exporters. Bush's White House pushed Alan Greenspan behind the scenes on rates and openly called on the Fed to lower its benchmark in June 1992. "But at the same time I'm letting them do what they feel is best", Trump told CNBC.
A number of factors, including inflation and higher interest rates, could soon counteract the fiscal stimulus, however, and economists say the risk of recession in the coming years is growing.
While the White House attempted to assuage concerns by reiterating the president's support for the Fed's independence, the comments still raised the spectre of a huge policy mistake from the 1970s.
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Trump argued the Fed's rate hikes went against "all of the work that goes into doing what we're doing". "Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again", Trump said, implying the central bank could hinder economic growth.
Since the Clinton administration, the nation's chief executives have declined to comment on Fed actions, out of respect for the independence of the institution, and to avoid any hint of political influence over the nation's money supply.
United States companies may find themselves less able to compete globally as import tariffs contribute to rising input costs, forcing them to raise prices or lower their profit margins.
Interest rate hikes can suppress investment and the unemployment rate, two metrics Trump and Republicans touted frequently throughout his presidency. Since then, the Fed has sought to reassure investors that it is independent.
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While not only stirring debate, the comments also had an immediate effect on markets with the dollar basket erasing a rally posted earlier in the day.
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The White House later clarified Trump's statements.
The rate rises, which make borrowing more expensive, are meant to head off uncontrolled price rises as the U.S. economy expands.
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