President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the economy appears to be in good shape, but subtly suggested to the Federal Reserve that the upside would be higher if there were lower interest rates.
Economic numbers looking REALLY good. Can you imagine if I had long term ZERO interest rates to play with like the past administration, rather than the rapidly raised normalized rates we have today. That would have been SO EASY! Still, markets up BIG since 2016 Election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2019
Although Trump didn’t clarify exactly what “economic numbers” he was referring to, recent headline data releases have pointed to a healthy economy. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that non-farm payrolls grew by 312,000 in December, smashing expectations for only 184,000. The unemployment rate actually ticked up to 3.9%.
Consumers are also showing strong confidence in the economy.
Shortly after the jobs data release, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the jobs report was in line with generally positive data readings, although he noted that manufacturing readings have been “well below expectation.”
Trump laments that his economic reform would have more bite if the Fed hadn’t “rapidly raised normalized rates,” arguing that the Obama administration was able to benefit from “long term ZERO interest rates.” However, it was the short-term federal funds rate that was at the zero bound from 2008 through the end of 2015. Longer-term interest rates were low, but not zero.
Powell has faced public pressure from the president on a number of occasions. Asked on Friday if he has plans to meet with Trump, Powell said he has nothing scheduled and insisted that he would not resign from his post if the president asked him to do so.
Brian Cheung is a reporter covering the banking industry and the intersection of finance and policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @bcheungz.