Trump meets with Jay Powell, the Federal Reserve chair he has attacked as an 'enemy'

David Jackson, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – After months of complaints about interest rates, President Donald Trump met at the White House with Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell to discuss the economy.

The Fed, an independent agency, said after the meeting that interest-rate decisions would be based on "non-political analysis."

In a statement, the central bank said Powell "did not discuss his expectations for monetary policy, except to stress that the path of policy will depend entirely on incoming information that bears on the outlook for the economy."

"Monetary policy" is a reference to interest rates.

The Fed statement said that Powell and his colleagues "will set monetary policy, as required by law, to support maximum employment and stable prices and will make those decisions based solely on careful, objective and non-political analysis."

Trump, who has attacked Powell on Twitter in recent months, posted a more restrained account of the encounter, calling it "a very good & cordial meeting at the White House."

The president said "everything" was on the agenda, "including interest rates, negative interest, low inflation, easing, Dollar strength & its effect on manufacturing, trade with China, E.U. & others, etc."

"Negative interest" rates is one of the things Trump has called for in a months-long series of comments attacking the Fed chairman.

In August, Trump called Powell "an enemy," and compared him to President Xi Jinping of China. "My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powel or Chairman Xi?", Trump said in a tweet that misspelled Powell's last name.

On Sept. 11, Trump tweeted that "the Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt." He said that "a once in a lifetime opportunity" was being missed because of "Boneheads" on the Fed.

Trump did bring up his differences with Powell over interest rates, said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a private meeting. 

The president himself extended the White House invitation to Powell, officials said, and the meeting included Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

While Trump has called on Powell to make bigger cuts in interest rates, noting that some countries have negative rates, Powell told Congress last week the Fed has already cut rates three times this year, and it will have less room to maneuver because of the ballooning federal debt.

“The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, with high and rising debt,” Powell told lawmakers. "Over time, this outlook could restrain fiscal policymakers’ willingness or ability to support economic activity during a downturn.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump meets Jay Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman he often attacks