Powell reiterates U.S. Fed’s independence

WASHINGTON, March 10 (Xinhua) — U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Sunday that he didn’t think President Donald Trump could fire him, re-emphasizing the Fed’s monetary policy independence.

“The law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” Powell told the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) news show “60 Minutes.” When asked if he thought the president could fire him, he said “no.”

“We are directed to execute policy in a strictly nonpolitical way,” he said. “Our decisions on rates can’t be reversed by any other part of the government.”

The U.S. president has repeatedly exerted pressure on the Fed to hold off on rate hikes, saying that monetary tightening impeded economic progress. Trump reportedly considered firing the central bank chief a few months ago.

The president reiterated his criticism of the Fed’s monetary policy about a week ago, saying that increased interest rates led to a strong dollar that’s “prohibitive for us to be dealing with other nations and taking their business.”

Powell, meanwhile, has repeatedly stressed the Fed’s commitment to independence. He told the House Financial Services Committee in a hearing in late February that the Fed would pursue its mandate “without concern for short-term political considerations.”

He has said policy decisions will continue to be “data dependent” and will take into account new information as economic conditions and the outlook evolve.

The Fed approved four rate hikes in 2018, continuing a move toward policy normalization that began in 2015. After concluding its policy meeting in January, the central bank left interest rates unchanged and pledged to be patient in future hikes.