Both because Donald Trump is doing some, uh, different things in terms of managing the Federal Reserve—although not all that different from some of his vastly overrated predecessors!—and also may be considering doing something that really would be quite shocking, if he weren’t already at the helm of an administration that has declared trade wars on everyone, alliances stupid, a functioning government unnecessary and children fit to be kept in cages. As such, everything about the U.S. central bank is viewed in context of how it will respond to/defy/submit to our remarkably, unreasonably fearless leader.
For instance, John Williams, the latest white man to lead the New York Fed, has been portrayed as joining his colleagues in their hasty retreat before the booming Twitter cannon, calling for restraint and patience in further rate increases. Here’s what he actually said:
“The approach we need is one of prudence, patience, and good judgment - the motto of ‘data dependence’ is more relevant than ever,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery to the New Jersey Bankers Association.
“If growth continues to come in well above sustainable levels, somewhat higher interest rates may well be called for at some point. However, if conditions turn out to be less robust, then I will adjust my policy views accordingly.”
I mean, you’re certainly free to read that as a white flag over Maiden Lane, and we are certain that the sycophants and mendacious mediocrities around the president are reading it to him as just that. You can read it as Williams saying the Fed was raising rates up to this point for shits and giggles and to make the commander-in-chief choke on his cold hamburger, evidence be damned. Or, you know, you can read it as a guy at the Fed saying that the Fed will rely on data before making its rate decisions, which sounds like the kind of things Fed guys always say, even in the benighted pre-MAGA era. And maybe even as a bit of a shot at the president: If data dependence is more relevant than ever, that leaves less room in the model for presidential Twitter meltdown analysis.