Long may the Fed remain free from influence
When it comes to Federal Reserve policy, we need to focus our worries about the correct thing. Hint: It’s not inflation. It’s not recession. Nor is it the timing of interest rate hikes.
It’s the Fed’s independence. Even President Donald Trump agrees with me. Although, admittedly, for reasons diametrically opposed to my reasons.
In recent weeks, Trump has ramped up his attacks on the Federal Reserve. Trump told
Fox News that “my biggest threat is the Fed.” Also, that the Fed is “loco,” and he’s unhappy “because the Fed is raising rates too fast, and it’s too independent.”
After three interest rate hikes in 2018, the Federal Reserve will raise short-term interest rates one more time this year, and likely another 1 percent over the next two years, according to its future guidance — barring unexpected developments, such as war or recession.
The fact that Trump is unhappy is not particularly surprising. In fact, White House grumbling about the Fed has been common enough over the past 80 years. Not using
Trump’s uniquely colorful language, mind you, but it’s still not wholly new.
Political leaders always want pro-growth policies. Low unemployment and high asset prices tend to make leaders look good. Presidents generally don’t want the Federal Reserve to “take away the punch bowl just as the party is getting started,” as William McChesney Martin, who was Fed chairman from 1951 to 1970, put it.
President Richard Nixon reportedly blamed his 1960 loss to John F. Kennedy on Martin’s tight monetary policy of high interest rates.
President Lyndon B. Johnson complained as well, saying, “Martin, my boys are dying in Vietnam, and you won’t print