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By *Jim Naureckas
The New York Times' lead story this morning (3/13/17) pits President Donald Trump against the Federal Reserve Board:
"Mr. Trump and Janet L. Yellen, the Fed's chairwoman, appear to be headed toward a collision, albeit in slow motion. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that he is determined to stimulate faster growth while the central bank, for its part, is indicating that it will seek to restrain any acceleration in economic activity.
"On Wednesday, the Fed plans to make a first move in the direction of restraint. The central bank has all but announced that it will raise its benchmark interest rate at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee."- Advertisement -
The problem with this account, by Times Washington correspondent Binyamin Appelbaum , is that the Fed is doing exactly what Trump, throughout the 2016 campaign, repeatedly demanded that it do. When he announced his candidacy back in June 2015 (6/16/15), too-low interest rates were one of the grievances he listed about the Obama economy:
"Believe me, we're in a bubble. We have artificially low interest rates. We have a stock market that, frankly, has been good to me, but I still hate to see what's happening. We have a stock market that is so bloated."
In the midst of the campaign, Trump discussed interest rates at length in an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box (9/12/16), criticizing a previous decision by Yellen to not raise interest rates:
"It's staying at zero because she's obviously political and doing what Obama wants her to do, and I know that's not supposed to be the way it is, because that's why it's low...
"But let's see what happens when interest rates go up. I think they are keeping them down, and they will keep them down longer and any increase at all will be a very, very small increase, Joe, because, you know, they want to keep the market up so Obama goes out and let the new guy, whoever -- let's call it a new guy, you know, because I like the sound of that much better, but the new person becomes president, let him raise interest rates or her raise interest rates, and watch what happens to the stock market when that happens, because you have no choice.
"The people that were hurt the worst are people that saved their money all their lives and thought they would live off their interests, and those people are getting just absolutely creamed. The ones that did it right, they saved their money and cut down on their mortgages and did all the things, they did everything exactly right, and now they are getting practically zero interest on the money they worked so hard for over 40 years. I mean, those people have really been -- you can almost say discriminated against. The interest rates are kept down by President Obama. I have no doubt that that's the reason they are being kept down."- Advertisement -
The subject came up in the first presidential debate (9/27/16), when Trump once again criticized Yellen for keeping interest rates artificially low:
"We're in a bubble right now. And the only thing that looks good is the stock market, but if you raise interest rates even a little bit, that's going to come crashing down. We are in a big, fat, ugly bubble. And we better be awfully careful.
"And we have a Fed that's doing political things. This Janet Yellen of the Fed. The Fed is doing political -- by keeping the interest rates at this level. And believe me: The day Obama goes off, and he leaves, and goes out to the golf course for the rest of his life to play golf, when they raise interest rates, you're going to see some very bad things happen, because the Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton."
The odd thing is that Appelbaum's article makes reference to "the belligerence toward the Fed that characterized Mr. Trump's campaign pronouncements." If you go to that link -- to a September 27, 2016, Times article also written by Appelbaum -- you read that Trump...