A Phil Hall Op-Ed: If Donald Trump resumes the presidency in 2025, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will be out of a job come 2026. In an interview on Friday with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, the former president said he would not reappoint Powell to a third term as the head of the nation’s central bank – and he even accused Powell of conspiring to use his power to re-elect President Biden.
“It looks to me like he’s trying to lower interest rates for the sake of maybe getting people elected, I don’t know,” Trump said. “I think he’s going to do something to probably help the Democrats, I think, if he lowers interest rates.”
Two days prior to Trump’s interview, Powell was asked by reporters if he was interested in a third term at the Fed.
“I don’t have a stance on that – that is not something I am focused on,” he responded. “I am focused on doing our jobs. This year will be a highly consequential year for the Fed and monetary policy, and all of us are very buckled down and focused on doing our jobs.”
Actually, Powell has given the concept of job security some degree of thought. That might explain why he gave a very rare interview on Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes,” where he defended the job he did as Fed chairman.
“When I look back on this, I want to be able to say that I gave it my absolute best, and that I made the right decisions for the right reasons,” he said about his leadership.
Trump, of course, is responsible for Powell’s appointment as Fed chairman, but the former president had near-immediate regret for his decision once Powell was sworn in. While Trump was in the White House, his complaints about the Fed’s policy making under Powell were unusually harsh, and at several points he even raised the possibility of taking the unprecedented step of having Powell removed from office.
But Trump didn’t dislodge him, and Powell was reappointed by President Biden in 2022, who made a thinly veiled reference to Trump when he praised Powell’s “steady leadership during an unprecedently challenging period, including the biggest economic downturn in modern history and attacks on the independence of the Federal Reserve.”
And that raises the question: would a re-elected Biden consider another term with Powell at the head of the central bank? We have no idea because Biden’s handlers have turned him into an elusive presence during this election year – outside of fielding an occasional question that is shouted from great distances (often over the noise of helicopter rotors), the president isn’t being made available to sit down and spell out in detail his plans for a second term.
Powell is the rare subject that unites liberals and conservatives. Lest we forget, progressive icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren said of Powell, “He has had two jobs – one is to deal with monetary policy, one is to deal with regulation. He has failed at both.” And Florida’s Sen. Rick Scott was equally caustic, stating, “He’s done a horrible job. So when you go buy gas, and when you to the grocery and pay the rent, you can thank Jay Powell … for this ridiculously high inflation.”
Also, many people accuse Powell of being asleep at the central bank wheel when he blithely dismissed the rise of inflation in 2021 was “transitory” – and we are still paying for that mistake.
Trump did not give out any names for a Powell replacement, but at least we know where he stands on the subject. It’s time for Biden to let us know if four more years of his administration will include four more years of Powell’s Fed leadership.
Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at [email protected]
Photo by Joshua Roberts / International Monetary Fund / Flickr Creative Commons