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Trump hammers Fed, Powell for lack of 'guts' and 'vision' on rate cut

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

President Donald Trump on Wednesday harshly rebuked the Federal Reserve, accusing the central bank and Fed Chair Jerome Powell of having no “guts” by not meting out a more aggressive interest rate cut as the global economy slows.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut interest rates again by 25 basis points to a new target range of 1.75% to 2%, and telegraphed a strong likelihood of at least one more rate cut by the end of the year.

However, some on Wall Street anticipated a more aggressive easing of 50 basis points, particularly with financial markets conditions tightening. Indeed, markets sank to their lows of the day as investors digested the Fed’s latest decision, and what divided officials meant for the prospect of more monetary stimulus.

Trump tweeted that the central bank lacked “vision” as well as clear communication — continuing his war of words against the Fed and the man he hand-picked to lead the institution.

The central bank’s decision — and its “dot plot” of future rate expectations — indicated a clearly dovish bias. However, the market’s reaction suggested disappointment that a deeper easing campaign could pull rates even lower.

President Donald Trump arrives at Los Angeles International Airport to attend a fundraiser, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“Bottom line, there is now a likelihood that as of today, this might be the last rate cut of the year as the 'mid course adjustment' process continues but could be done,” noted Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

“So call this a hawkish cut. The stock market is of course disappointed with the limit on the amount of candy they'll get, but more rate cuts assumes an ever slowing economy and that's not something to cheer for,” he added.

The president’s response comes a week after he issued a call for the Fed to engineer rates to zero “or less,” and backed negative yields as part of a strategy to cut U.S. borrowing costs and stimulate growth.

With the world economy sandbagged by the downside risks of the U.S.-China trade war, Trump has lashed out repeatedly at the central bank, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Last week, the president called the central bank “boneheads” for missing out on “a once in a lifetime opportunity” presented by historically low yields. Still, the Fed chief enjoys support from investors and top executives on Wall Street.

“Jay Powell is a quality human being. He’s quite bright. He’s quite knowledgeable,” Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, told Yahoo Finance in a roundtable interview with reporters.

“He’s dealing with complex situations and most Fed chairs have had a little bit of trouble early on, on how they communicate. And of course, this Fed communicates a lot,” the banker said — adding that perhaps Powell and the central bank should “communicate a lot less.”

In the aftermath of the decision, Wall Street hunkered at session lows:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC) -0.7%, or 22.25 points

  • Dow (^DJI): -0.7%, or 184.64 points

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -1%, or 86.65 points

  • U.S. crude oil prices (CL=F): -2% to $58.10 per barrel

  • 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX): -5.1 bps to 1.763%

  • Gold (GC=F): -0.34% to $1,508.20 per ounce

—Yahoo Finance’s Jessica Smith contributed to this story.

Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow Javier on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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