Can Trump fire Fed chairman Jerome Powell?

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York Monday Dec. 24 2018

"Feel the market, don't just go by meaningless numbers", Mr. Trump urged in a tweet earlier on Tuesday.

USA stock markets fell sharply on Monday with the S&P 500 down more than two percent and the Dow off almost three percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 653.17 points, or 2.9 percent, to 21,792.20.

With the S&P 500 down 17 per cent since September, the benchmark is on pace for its worst quarter since 2008.

Tokyo was closed for a public holiday on Monday but Hong Kong dropped 0.40 percent in a pre-Christmas half day of trading while Sydney closed up 0.48 percent.

Many experts said the president most likely does not have the authority to remove Powell, whom Trump nominated to lead the central bank a year ago, largely on Mnuchin's recommendation.

"The only problem our economy has is the Fed", he wrote.

On Monday, the market recovered by late morning, but then slid even lower after President Donald Trump tweeted: "The only problem our economy has is the Fed".

He added: "The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can't score because he has no touch - he can't putt!"

The US 2-year and 10-year Treasuries yield curve held near 15 basis points, indicating bond market concerns about slowing global growth and highlighting greater recessionary fears in credit markets. And it wouldn't shock me in the slightest that Trump is angered by the Fed's decision to raise interest rates, along with his desire to boot Powell.

Mr Mnuchin had issued a statement by Twitter last Saturday evening quoting the President as saying he wouldn't fire Mr Powell and disavowing authority to do so.

"He is seeking open warfare on Christmas Eve", said Peter Conti-Brown, a financial historian at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

"We've never seen anything like this full-blown and full-frontal assault", said Peter Conti-Brown, a financial historian at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

President Donald Trump has privately asked cabinet members if he has the authority to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell after interest rates were increased and the stock market plummeted, United States media reported Saturday. Combined with the ongoing trade war, higher borrowing costs and signs of a slowdown in global growth, the political turmoil has raised the specter of a recession.

However, analysts said prospects for a global economic slowdown in the coming year - which would weaken crude demand - and rising U.S. shale output are dampening sentiment and limiting any rebound from the current 15-month lows.

"What the president fails to understand is that monetary policy should be separate from politics", said Sen.Mark Warner, D-Va., a member of the Banking Committee. "The Federal Reserve is set up to be independent".

Fed officials voted unanimously to increase rates last week.

In response to an inquiry, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders said: "I'm aware of no plans to fire Powell".

On Sunday, after stock markets suffered their worst week in a decade, treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin revealed he had spoken to the heads of six major banks and convened the Working Group on Financial Markets, a presidential advisory panel known colloquially as the "plunge protection team".

"My sense is the Mnuchin tweets don't tell us much about the economy, but they provide unusual insight into the chaos inside the White House", said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at the consultancy RSM.



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