- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2019

President Trump said Monday he had a “cordial” meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell on the economy and interest rates despite previously attacking the central banker as a “bonehead” who doesn’t understand either.

The Federal Reserve said Mr. Powell did not disclose any policy expectations and will continue to guide the Fed in an apolitical manner, even as Mr. Trump breaks with tradition and openly lobbies the central bank to slash interest rates to the close-to-zero levels in order to boost economic growth going into a presidential election year.

For all his Twitter bluster about the Fed’s performance, Mr. Trump on Monday deemed it a “very good” sit-down.

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“Everything was discussed [sic] including interest rates, negative interest, low inflation, easing, Dollar strength & its effect on manufacturing, trade with China, EU & others, etc.,” he tweeted.

The economy is a key plank of Mr. Trump’s reelection push in 2020, as he’s dogged by a House impeachment drive that alleges he abused his power by holding up Ukraine aid money in a push for political favors.

Mr. Trump is urging voters to dismiss those problems as a sideshow and reelect him to protect Wall Street gains and their personal 401(k)s. At times, he’s told voters they really don’t have a choice but to select him over Democrats he derides as “socialists.”

Mr. Trump has responded to signs of economic turmoil, however, by complaining about Fed policy, saying the higher lending rates are a limiting force, and comparing the low-key Mr. Powell — who Mr. Trump himself named chairman — to “a golfer who can’t putt.”

The Federal Reserve cut rates this year to bolster the economy but Mr. Trump says the central bank should follow the lead of European nations and cut further, saying the bank blundered by raising rates earlier in his presidency and hasn’t been aggressive enough in changing course.

The president met with Mr. Powell for dinner in February, though his online attacks continued in the following months.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joined Mr. Trump and Mr. Powell at Monday’s meeting.

In a statement, the Federal Reserve said Mr. Powell’s message did not stray from what he told Capitol Hill lawmakers last week, when he signaled the central bank would leave rates alone for now. The board’s actions, it added, will continue to be guided by the economy and not by politics.

“He did not discuss his expectations for monetary policy, except to stress that the path of policy will depend entirely on incoming information that bears on the outlook for the economy,” the Fed said. “Finally, Chair Powell said that he and his colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee will set monetary policy, as required by law, to support maximum employment and stable prices and will make those decisions based solely on careful, objective and nonpolitical analysis.”

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