August 30, 2018 / 8:40 PM / 21 days ago

'I like and respect' Fed's Powell, Trump tells Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he respected Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell even though the central bank was not helping him out in trade disputes, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the news media during an event at which he announced a grant for a drug-free communities support program in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/ File Photo

“I put a man in there who I like and respect,” Trump told Bloomberg in an interview that included a seeming nod by the president to the importance of the Fed’s independence in setting monetary policy.

“We are not being accommodated” by the Fed when it comes to trade disputes, Trump said, according to Bloomberg. “That being said ... I’m not sure the currency should be controlled by a politician.”

Trump nominated Powell as Fed chairman late last year, and he took over from Janet Yellen in February.

The president has several times in recent weeks criticized the Fed for raising interest rates, most recently saying in an interview with Reuters that he was “not thrilled” with the Fed’s policies and what they might mean for his economic program.

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the “Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress," at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, U.S., July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert/File Photo

The Fed has been tightening credit as the economy recovers with low unemployment and steady inflation, steps Powell and other policymakers say are appropriate if only to bring rates back from the ultra-low levels during the 2007-2009 economic crisis.

But that can make borrowing more expensive for businesses and households, and also make U.S. exports less competitive by strengthening the dollar against other currencies.

Other presidents have criticized the Fed, and Trump’s comments raised the usual concerns about possible political interference at the central bank.

Fed officials, including Powell in remarks last week, have made clear that their rate hike plans remain on track despite Trump’s comments.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang

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