Washington, Dec 23 : US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reassured financial markets that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is here to stay after a report said that President Donald Trump had privately discussed the likely removal of the central bank chief in coming days.
Mnuchin tweeted late on Saturday that he’d spoken with the president about the matter, and quoted Trump saying he didn’t believe he had the authority to remove the central bank chief, a move that could roil the already volatile financial markets.
“I never suggested firing Chairman Jay Powell, nor do I believe I have the right to do so,” Mnuchin quoted Trump as telling him.
Earlier source-based reports on Saturday had in the US media talked about the Trump decision to fire Powell.
The President may differ with the US central bank chief on the Fed’s interest rate-hiking campaign but he himself appointed Powell.
The Fed has declined to comment when asked about the latest development.
An attempt to remove the Fed chairman would be seen as an attack on the US central bank’s independence.
Trump has frequently attacked Powell, who was sworn in as Fed chairman in February 2017, and the Fed for raising borrowing costs recently, especially as US stocks have tumbled and yields on US government debt have begun to signal a possible recession ahead.
US stocks and bond yields fell hard after the decision. The Dow Jones industrial average had its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, while the Nasdaq sank into bear market territory.
Earlier in December, Trump, in an interview, had said he liked Powell, but not his policies.
“I think he’s a good man. I think he’s trying to do what he thinks is best. I disagree with him,” Trump said. “I think he’s being too aggressive, far too aggressive, actually far too aggressive.”