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Trump calls on the Fed to cut rates while praising China's 'great' stimulus

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

President Donald Trump launched a new broadside against the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy on Tuesday, calling for an interest rate cut that would send U.S. growth “up like a rocket” while praising China’s economic policy.

In a series of posts on Twitter, the president once again blasted the Fed’s tightening campaign, which has been on pause since December, while lauding the monetary and economic stimulus China has pumped into its economy.

Trump vs the Fed

Trump has been engaged in an unrelenting war of words against the Fed, insisting that the central bank’s tightening campaign last year has pumped the brakes unnecessarily on growth. With the Fed on hold, stocks have hit new records and fears of a sharp slowdown have receded.

The president’s attacks—amplified by White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow— have put him at odds with Fed chair Jerome Powell, the man he elevated to the top central banking post.

The divergence in views between the two men has recently prompted Trump to hand-pick Fed nominees more in line with his views — a strategy that’s produced questionable results with Herman Cain’s withdrawal, and Stephen Moore’s nomination on the rocks.

“Looking at some of the indicators — I mean the economy looks fundamentally quite healthy, we just don’t want” the prospect of slower growth that comes with higher interest rates, Kudlow told CNBC in March.

Saying the Fed should cut rates “immediately,” Kudlow added that “there’s no inflation out there, so I think the Fed’s actions were probably overdone.”

The economy expanded at a surprisingly brisk pace of 3.2% in the first quarter, government data showed last week, while job creation has remained strong and inflation below the Fed’s target of 2%.

However, troubles in China and Europe have raised fears of a global slowdown — which could spell trouble for Trump’s reelection efforts next year if it takes hold in the U.S.

Meanwhile, a small minority on Wall Street believe the Fed could lay the foundation for an “insurance cut” to interest rates, in order to ward off a slowdown. After last year’s rate hikes, the Fed finds itself with more room to maneuver than its counterparts in other major economies, which are still in crisis mode with monetary policy.

Modest price pressures have generated “a view in markets that the Fed is coming up short on its inflation mandate and that rate cuts are imminent,” said Justin Weidner, an economist at Deutsche Bank.

“The Fed’s rhetoric about the inflation data will be very important to watch going forward, especially in the May [Fed Open Market Committee] meeting statement and in Chair Powell's subsequent press conference,” he added.

In January, China unveiled a series of measures designed to boost growth, while blunting the effects of a wide ranging trade dispute with the U.S.

The world’s second-largest economy has moved to cut taxes and ramp up government spending — a supply side policy prescription that’s come in for some criticism from economists.

While the stimulus is set to ease the burdens on some businesses and lift the economy from the bottom, economists have questioned China’s use of policies that do little to promote structural reform.

“I think really this is a time where China needs to be thinking about increasing taxes. The right kinds of tax structures, environmental taxes, land taxes, capital gains taxes are taxes that actually can help restructure the economy for the 21st century,” Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said in March.

— Yahoo Finance’s Krystal Hu contributed to this article.


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