White House Blames Fed for Slowing Economic Growth

President Trump and his top economic adviser criticized the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate increases again on Friday, blaming the central bank for hindering economic growth while denying any suggestion of a looming slowdown.

Just one day after the Commerce Department said the economy slowed more sharply at the end of last year than previously reported, Mr. Trump blamed the Fed for “mistakenly” raising rates last year.

“Had the Fed not mistakenly raised interest rates, especially since there is very little inflation, and had they not done the ridiculously timed quantitative tightening,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday, “the 3.0% GDP, & Stock Market, would have both been much higher & World Markets would be in a better place!”

Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told CNBC on Friday that Mr. Trump would like to see the Fed cut rates by half a percentage point.

“This is our view. This is his view. This is my view,” Mr. Kudlow said.

Mr. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the Fed’s recent interest rate increases and its effort to slim down its massive portfolio of government-backed securities. Mr. Trump has blamed the Fed for slowing economic growth and has criticized his handpicked Fed chairman, Jerome H. Powell. After the Fed raised rates in December, Mr. Trump complained to aides that Mr. Powell was going to “turn me into Hoover,” a reference to the man who was president in the early years of the Great Depression.

After raising rates for five consecutive quarters, the Fed abruptly changed course this year and said earlier this month that it foresees no additional increases in 2019. Mr. Powell said last week that the Fed would leave interest rates unchanged, as signs of economic weakness in the United States and abroad warrant a more “patient” approach.

He also said that the Fed planned to stop winnowing its portfolio of government bonds, which it amassed in the wake of the financial crisis as it tried to prop up the economy. The Fed will end its efforts to shrink that portfolio, known as quantitative tightening, later this year.

The Fed, along with many outside economists, sees economic growth slowing in 2019 as the effects of Mr. Trump’s tax cuts fade and as his trade war and weaker growth in Europe and in China contribute to a slowdown. Mr. Powell told reporters earlier this month that, depending on how economic data played out, the Fed’s next move could just as easily be a rate cut as a rate increase.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department revised its growth estimates for 2018, saying the economy — as measured from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018 — stands at 3.0 percent, down a bit from the initially reported 3.1 percent. That is still enough to allow Mr. Trump to claim to have achieved the first year of 3 percent growth since 2005.

Mr. Trump has insisted that economic growth will continue at a rapid clip, but he has also begun to blame the Fed for any slowdown that might occur.

In an interview with Fox Business Network last Friday, Mr. Trump said that the economy would have grown by at least 4 percent “if we didn’t have somebody that would raise interest rates and do quantitative tightening.”

Mr. Kudlow has struck a slightly less pugilistic tone. In an interview with CNBC, Mr. Kudlow said that the economy “fundamentally” looks “quite healthy,” adding that he and Mr. Trump understand that the Fed operates independently.

Mr. Kudlow said Mr. Trump had “redesigned, redeveloped and re-engineered” the economy and suggested the Fed was getting in the way of allowing the president’s efforts to take root.

“There’s no emergency, just a point of view,” Mr. Kudlow said. “We don’t want to threaten this great recovery.”

While Mr. Powell already seems to be following the trajectory Mr. Trump wants, the president said last week that he plans to nominate Stephen Moore to an open seat on the Fed. Mr. Moore, a former campaign adviser to Mr. Trump and a conservative economist, has been pushing for the Fed to cut interest rates, saying their recent increases went too far. The White House has yet to formally nominate Mr. Moore for the Fed seat.

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