Powell Says No Trump Invite Yet and He Would Meet With President

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Donald Trump hasn’t asked for a meeting despite months of attacks the president has launched against him and indications from the White House the two men would probably get together.

The U.S. central bank chief told the Economic Club of Washington D.C. Thursday that while he hadn’t received an invitation to meet with Trump, who picked him to replace Janet Yellen at the Fed’s helm, it wouldn’t be appropriate to decline.

“Fed chairs do meet with presidents. I am not aware of any Fed chair in my lifetime that hasn’t met with the president. Meetings tend to be rare,” Powell said. “I am not aware of any Fed chair turning down an invitation from the White House, nor do I think that would be appropriate.”

Trump has publicly criticized the Fed over rate increases and Bloomberg News reported Dec. 21 that he had discussed firing the Fed chair over frustration with stock-market losses. That was two days after the Fed raised interest rates for the fourth time in 2018 and signaled two more hikes this year.

Powell, who said on Jan. 4 that he wouldn’t resign if asked by the president to step down, has assured investors that officials would be sensitive to the messages they receive from financial markets about potential risks to growth. That has been interpreted as signaling the Fed will pause rate hikes at least through March. Powell reiterated that officials could “wait and see” how the economy performs.

“We’re in a place where we can be patient and flexible and wait and see what does evolve, and I think for the meantime we’re waiting and watching,” he said Thursday.

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said last Friday that “both sides” want the president and Powell to meet over their differences on the central bank’s rate increases.
“The details have not been worked through yet,” Kudlow told Bloomberg TV. “I can’t really predict a meeting although I think one will happen.”

Asked on Thursday if he would be “happy” to have a sit-down with the president, Powell said, “I am not aware of anyone not accepting it.”

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