NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - The Bank of England governor and the head of the International Monetary Fund praised the abilities of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday, after U.S. President Donald Trump said the Fed had “gone crazy” by raising interest rates.
Speaking on a panel at this week’s International Monetary Fund and the World Bank meetings in Bali, Governor Mark Carney was asked about Trump’s remarks.
“Of the many qualities of Jerome Powell is he’s an individual who really understands the plumbing of the U.S. and the global financial system,” Carney said.
“And that’s an incredible advantage for the system at a time that the system is changing to have someone in his position who has that level of technocratic expertise,” said Carney.
As Wall Street suffered its worst one-day fall since February on Wednesday, Trump accused the Fed of moving too fast in raising interest rates when inflation is minimal and government data points to a strong economy.
“I think ... the Fed is making a mistake. They’re so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,” Trump said in Pennsylvania before a political rally.
The Fed last raised rates in September and left intact its plans to steadily tighten monetary policy, as it forecast that the U.S. economy would enjoy at least three more years of economic growth.
At the meetings in Bali, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said she “would not associate” Jerome Powell “with craziness.”
“No, no, he comes across, and members of his board, as extremely serious, solid and certainly keen to base their decisions on actual information, and decide to communicate that properly,” she told CNBC.
U.S. presidents have rarely criticized the Fed in recent decades because its independence has been seen as important for economic stability. Trump has departed from that practice and has said he would not shy from future criticism should the Fed keep lifting rates.
Rising U.S. yields are a major factor behind capital outflows putting pressure on emerging markets currencies. Yet, Lesetja Kganyago, governor of the South African Reserve Bank who was alongside Carney on the panel, said regulators need to be “given the space to act independently without political interference” in order to advance many agendas.
The Bank of England governor cited Powell’s support for reform of Libor (London interbank offered rate), after a rate rigging scandal, as an example of the Fed chief’s grasp of issues affecting world markets.
The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are being held this week in Bali and attended by more than 19,000 delegates and other guests, including ministers, central bank heads and some leaders.
Editing by Ed Davies and Simon Cameron-Moore