If Donald Trump is good at anything—and, general appearance to the contrary, he is good at some things, like lying and bankruptcy and pouting—it’s pressing an advantage. Become a reality television star and thusly garner an unwarranted reputation for business acumen and deal-making? Well, he managed to turn that into the presidency of the United States. When Donald Trump senses weakness, he goes in for the kill. And boy, does Jay Powell ever reek of weakness.
Trump spent months browbeating Powell in the press, and possibly over an Arby’s dinner or whatever the hell they serve up in the White House residence in this foul year of our Lord 2019, to stop raising interest rates. And Powell eventually did stop raising interest rates.
Whether this was motivated or warranted by economic conditions, it was a mistake. To once again paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, your normal Fed chair will panic and immediately surrender when he sees the rampaging orange id behind him. This is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cop-heart, and possibly no person who is not an actual member of a law enforcement organization has ever had a cop-heart quite like Donald Trump. As such, giving the president what he wants is not a strategy to get the president to leave you alone. It is a strategy to have the pressure further ratcheted up. And so as soon as Powell stopped raising rates, Trump and his cronies said that wasn’t enough: He had to cut them, too.
And now, it seems, Powell & co. are ready to cut them, eventually. The experts say as many as three times this year. Is the bloviator-in-chief satisfied?
“They devalue their currency, they have for years: It’s put them at a tremendous competitive advantage. And we don’t have that advantage because we have a Fed that doesn’t lower interest rates,” Trump told CNBC’s Joe Kernen on “Squawk Box. ” “We should be entitled to have a fair playing field, but even without a fair playing field — because our Fed is very, very disruptive to us — even without a fair playing field we are winning.”
“Don’t forget: the head of the Fed in China is President Xi ... he can do whatever he wants,” Trump said.