Has Trump captured the Fed?
None of this bothers Trump, of course, who as a businessman has been no stranger to nefarious practices. Fortunately, it appears that Powell recognises the importance of well-designed financial regulations.
But politicisation of the Fed should be viewed as just another part of Trump’s battle against what his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has referred to as the “administrative state.” That battle, in turn, should be viewed as part of a larger war against the Enlightenment legacy of science, democratic governance, and the rule of law. Upholding that legacy entails employing expertise as needed, and creating, as Edward Stiglitz of Cornell Law School has emphasised, trust in public institutions. A large body of research now supports the idea that societies perform more poorly without such trust.
Every few days, Trump does something to rend the fabric of US society and inflame its already-deep social and partisan divisions. The clear and present danger is that the country is growing so accustomed to Trump’s outrages that they now appear “normal.” For more than seven decades, America has fought – often fitfully, to be sure – to redeem its stated values, taking on bigotry, fascism, and nativism in all their forms. Now, America’s president is a misogynist, racist xenophobe whose policies embody profound contempt for the cause of human rights.
One may approve or disapprove of the Republicans’ tax proposals, efforts to “reform” health care (oblivious to the tens of millions who might lose insurance coverage), and commitment to financial deregulation (ignoring the consequences of the 2008 crisis). But, while the Fed may be safe for now, whatever possible economic benefits this agenda could bring pale in comparison to the magnitude of the political and social risks posed by Trump’s assaults on America’s most cherished institutions and values.