Trump blasts Federal Reserve, threatens to escalate trade war with China

In a New York Minute

Fed will remain flexible, rates not on preset course: minutes

Stock markets and the dollar rose on Friday before a key speech by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell.

"Geopolitical events have been much in the news, including the growing possibility of a hard Brexit, rising tensions in Hong Kong, and the dissolution of the Italian government", Powell said, also mentioning another salvo in President Donald Trump's trade war with China, which was matched by new countermeasures by that nation earlier Friday.

The U.S. president fumed about the Fed doing "NOTHING" in a series of tweets and asked who is "our bigger enemy" between Powell and China's President Xi Jinping. "Despite this the Fake News Media, together with their Partner, the Democrat Party, are working overtime to convince people that we are in, or will soon be going into, a Recession", Trump tweeted Friday before Powell spoke and China's tariffs were announced.

Mr. Powell was set to deliver a speech on Friday night at the Fed's annual policy retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

There are "no recent precedents to guide any policy response to the current situation", Powell said, adding that monetary policy "cannot provide a settled rulebook for worldwide trade". He added that the Fed would "act as appropriate" to sustain interest rate cuts announced last month, a remark financial experts have taken to mean that another cut will be forthcoming.

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Soon after, Trump went on to attack China, which had announced tariffs of 5% to 10% on $75 billion of US -made goods, to take effect on September 1 and December 15 - the same dates that Trump's new tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese products are set to go into effect.

The Fed went out of its way to highlight the reasons for the cut in three bullet points, citing signs of economic deceleration, risk management concerns and too low inflation.

In recent months, the Fed has made clear that it is carefully considering trade uncertainty, a global growth slowdown and subdued inflation as it's sought to calibrate the right mix of policy in setting interest rates.

The July rate cut was viewed as "part of a recalibration. or mid-cycle adjustment" and, given the uncertainty surrounding the outlook, the officials "highlighted the need for policymakers to remain flexible and focused on the implications of incoming data for the outlook". A survey showing a surprise uptick in euro zone business growth for August was offset somewhat by trade war fears knocking future expectations to their weakest in over six years.

"I think we should stay here for a while and see how things play out", said Patrick Harker, the president of the Fed's Philadelphia regional bank.

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President Trump on the state of the US economy and why the Federal Reserve should cut interest rates.

The U.S. president has welcomed that move and is trying to push the Fed to cut rates even more, but so far the Fed has publicly tried to maintain its independence.

However, the minutes showed the central bankers are not unified, with several opposed to cutting rates while a couple favored a bigger cut. Instead, Powell is likely to lower rates by around a quarter of a percentage point, from their current level of 2.25 percent.

"Our Federal Reserve does not allow us to do what we must do", Trump tweeted Thursday.

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