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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he won't resign — even if President Trump asks him to

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Comments follow Trump criticism and a strong jobs report

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday he has no plans to resign, despite President Donald Trump's harsh criticism about his job performance, according to Reuters. The president has accused Powell of hurting the economy by raising interest rates.

Powell told Reuters that he has not received any direct communication from the White House about his job performance, nor has Trump requested a meeting. Powell also told the outlet that, even if he's asked, he will not resign. Trump picked Powell to head the Fed in February.

How did he counter the criticism?

Economic momentum in the U.S. remains solid, Powell said just hours after a monthly U.S. jobs report suggested the economy remains strong. His comments led to an initial boost in stock indices, Reuters reported.

"Particularly with the muted inflation readings that we've seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves," Powell told the American Economic Association. He also said the Fed is "not on a preset path of tightening policy and suggesting it could pause rate hikes as it did in 2016."

He added that, if needed, "we are always prepared to shift the stance of policy and to shift it significantly." Powell made the comments while speaking on a panel in Atlanta that included former Fed chiefs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke.

Although the U.S. economy appears strong, the central bank "is sensitive to the risks highlighted by investors and will be patient with its monetary policy in 2019," Powell reportedly said.

"I'll just say that we are listening carefully to that...listening sensitively to the message that markets are sending and we are going to be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward," he said.

Anything else?

Powell called the December jobs report "very strong" and said U.S. data seems "to be on track to sustain good momentum into the new year."

Earlier on Friday, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls increased by 312,000 jobs. That was well above market expectations. Wages and labor force participation also increased. Both are considered indicators of sustained economic strength.

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