Trump asked officials if he can legally fire Fed chair

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's speech at The Economic Club of Chicago appears on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday

White House Says Not Aware of Trump Plans to Fire Fed Reserve Chair

USA stocks jumped on Wednesday, supported by innovation stocks, and financials additionally increased in front of an exceedingly anticipated Federal Reserve declaration where speculators will look for signs of less rate climbs, which could start a year-end rally.

Trump has discussed firing Powell many times in the past few days as his frustration with the central banker intensified following this week's interest rate increase and intensifying stock market losses, according to four people familiar with the matter. Another problem with dismissing a sitting Fed chief may be finding a replacement who wants assurance that he or she won't succumb to the same fate as Powell. Even trying would just add further chaos to an administration without a permanent Chief of Staff, and with a lame duck Secretary of Defense who resigned in clear protest to Trump's approach to governing.

"What the president fails to understand is that monetary policy should be separate from politics", said Sen.Mark Warner, D-Va., a member of the Banking Committee.

A Fed spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP.

"I never suggested firing Chairman Jay Powell, nor do I believe I have the right to do so", Mnuchin quoted Trump as saying. "I think the increasing of interest rates and the shrinking of the Fed portfolio is an absolute bad thing to do at this time, especially in light of my major trade negotiations which are ongoing".


The volatility comes after several disappointments, including General Motors' decision last month to shutter plants in OH and MI - a business move that struck deep in the heart of MAGA country, where Trump wooed voters away from Democrats with repeated pledges to bring back lost manufacturing jobs. Talks of firing the Trump-nominated chairman reportedly heated up after the fed increased rates for the fourth time this year last week.

The fact that Trump has spoken with advisers about whether he can fire Powell was first reported by Bloomberg News on Friday evening. "It's politically inadvisable. And most importantly, it would be financially reckless", added Richard Fisher, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Another Republican Senator, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, said: 'Powell has done nothing to warrant being dismissed'.

An attempt to end Powell's term early however would be a direct attack on the independence of the powerful institution, which plays a major role in the world's largest economy, and likely create havoc in the stock market. There are only five governors now appointed, which means decisions are split between those serving in Washington and the regional Fed presidents, who are not appointed by Trump. According to the law, the president can fire a Fed governor (for a cause) but it hasn't been tested on the firing of a chair.

He is now chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Trump has frequently attacked Powell, who was sworn in early last February, and the Fed for raising borrowing costs this year, especially as United States stocks have tumbled and yields on U.S. government debt have begun to signal a possible recession. The most recent trigger for selling has been the march to a partial federal shutdown that started on Saturday, tied to Trump's hoped-for border wall with Mexico. But the S&P, Dow and Nasdaq are in correction territory, 10 percent or more below recent record highs.

"Yesterday, there is no doubt that markets were expecting a bailout from the Fedand threw a tantrum when they didnt get it", said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial Network. "In a single fell swoop, it would destroy the independence of the Fed".

The Federal Reserve Act says that a Fed governor can be removed "for cause", which courts have interpreted as criminal activity or malfeasance, as in other cases regarding independent agency leaders. "I don't see us changing that", Powell said. "The market is acting like we're moving to a phase of a synchronized global bear market", he said.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates this week. Before the central bank's policy meeting earlier this week, Trump warned against lifting rates when stock markets were slumping.

The Fed announced a widely anticipated rate hike on Wednesday and Powell signaled he'll be more cautious about tightening next year. Stocks have fallen on each "Fed Day" since Powell took the helm.


Latest News