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Trump calls Fed ‘only problem’ in U.S. economy; markets slump

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve on Monday, describing it as the “only problem” for the U.S. economy, as top officials convened to discuss the growing rout in stock markets caused in part by the president’s attacks on the central bank.

Stocks fell again on Monday amid concern about slowing economic growth, the government shutdown and reports that Trump had discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, whom he has repeatedly criticized for raising interest rates.

U.S. stocks have dropped sharply in recent weeks on concerns over weaker economic growth. The S&P 500 index .SPX was on pace for its biggest percentage decline in December since the Great Depression.

In a tweet that did nothing to ease market concerns about the Fed’s cherished independence, the Republican president laid the blame for economic headwinds firmly at the feet of the central bank.

“The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the market,” Trump said on Twitter. “The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!”

In addition to frequently criticizing the Fed’s rate hikes this year, Trump has gone after Powell several times, telling Reuters in August he was “not thrilled” with his own appointee. The Fed hiked interest rates again last week, as had been widely expected.

A crisis call on Monday between U.S. financial regulators and the Treasury Department did more to rattle markets than to assure them.

All three major indexes ended down more than 2 percent on the day before the Christmas holiday. The S&P 500 ended down about 19.8 percent from its Sept. 20 closing high, just shy of the 20 percent threshold that commonly defines a bear market.

Oil prices followed equities down, tumbling more than 6 percent to the lowest level in over a year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hosted a call with the president’s Working Group on Financial Markets, a body known colloquially as the “Plunge Protection team,” which normally only convenes during times of heavy market volatility.

Regulators on the call said they were not seeing anything out of the ordinary in financial markets during the recent sell-off and also discussed how they will continue critical operations during the partial government shutdown, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

On Sunday, Mnuchin made calls to top U.S. bankers and got reassurances that banks were still able to make loans, the Treasury said.

MARKETS LOWER AGAIN

If Mnuchin’s efforts were meant to soothe markets, that was not evident on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump, seated with adviser Jared Kushner (L) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (C), speaks during his meeting with the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

“When the Dow is down 600 points it’s hard to say it was a positive,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago. “Although his intention was a very good one, the net feeling I think was, ‘Is there a bigger problem that we don’t know about?’”

Representative Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said in a statement that Trump and Mnuchin’s actions “have been erratic and are creating uncertainty and instability in the markets.”

Wall Street is closely following reports that Trump had privately discussed the possibility of firing Powell, who became the Fed chief early last February after being appointed by Trump and has continued the path of gradual rate hikes started by his predecessor, Janet Yellen.

Mnuchin said on Saturday that Trump told him he had “never suggested firing” Powell.

Still, just the public suggestion that Trump might try to interfere so deeply with the Fed was unsettling to financial markets that have long operated on the presumption of the U.S. central bank’s independence from political meddling.

Adding to the disquiet is the lack of clarity over whether Trump could in fact dismiss Powell.

Sarah Binder, a professor of political science at George Washington University, said it was “ambiguous legally” whether Trump could remove Powell from the chairman role.

The Federal Reserve Act is clear that Powell can only be removed from the Fed’s board of governors “for cause,” which is generally understood to mean malfeasance, rather than disagreements over interest rates, Binder said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to the news media after giving a television interview at the White House in Washington, U.S. December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

But it may be lawful for Trump to remove Powell from the chairman role, Binder said. When Congress last amended the statute in 1977, it did not address whether removal from the chairman role must be “for cause,” she said.

Troubles in Washington have escalated in recent days with a partial government shutdown that began on Saturday following an impasse in Congress over funds for a wall on the border with Mexico. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation on Thursday after Trump’s surprise decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria also unsettled investors.

But Mnuchin’s response to the market concerns was seen as an overreaction in Wall Street circles.

“It seems unexpected, abrupt and unnecessary,” said Michael Purves, chief global strategist at Weeden & Co in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Additional reporting by Dan Burns, Richard Leong, Karen Brettell and Saqib Ahmed in New York and Pete Schroeder in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler

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Independent Consultant Beginner – 6 Should Have Pieces Of It Technology And Software

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Prima Wireless Earbuds Reviewhttps://primawirelessearbuds.net/.

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What Make Sure You Really Know Right Anyone Decide To Travel

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When traveling with children advised plan your route in advance. Do a little research and see as relevant and fun places to stop such as parks, museums or other attractions. Once you take breaks every non-chemical hours so everyone maybe even including the children probably get out and stretch their legs.

And yet their internal mechanics have improved with as of yet these people offering us much more than the mere Fm wavelengths. With their radio kit specially the newer model launched, you will get FM, AM, Internet radio, weather forecast and also TV recording.

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Majority of Canadian workers willing to take less pay for a workplace pension plan: survey

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A majority (70 per cent) of Canadians say they’re willing to forgo a higher salary in exchange for a workplace pension plan, according to a new survey for the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan by Abacus Data.

The survey, which polled more than 2,000 Canadian adults in April, signals an opportunity for employers to build back the post-coronavirus pandemic working landscape better by expanding access to good retirement plans — whether they’re defined benefit, defined contribution or group registered retirement savings plans, says Steven McCormick, senior vice-president of plan operations at the HOOPP.

According to the survey, a secure retirement remains of greater concern for Canadians than concerns about their health, debt load and job security. McCormick says this has been a consistent worry the HOOPP has seen in survey results over the past couple of years. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said they’re very concerned about having enough money in retirement, while 31 per cent were highly concerned about their personal debt load and 26 per cent cited their job security. Close to half of respondents expressed high concerns for their physical (43 per cent) and mental (40 per cent) health.

In addition, the pandemic has harmed the finances of more than half (52 per cent) of Canadians’ surveyed and it’s had a particularly disproportionate affect on the finances of younger adults. Adults aged 44 and younger said they’re twice as likely (25 per cent) to have had their finances greatly harmed, compared to those over the age of 60 (12 per cent).

Generally, younger adults tend to work in roles that may have been impacted most by the pandemic, says McCormick, whether in service industries that were shut down or frontline health care that have been busy but don’t always come with access to a pension plan. “Affordability is an issue, so I think their worries increased during this time.”

And while almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians surveyed said they’ve saved more money than they would have since the onset of the pandemic, among these respondents, over half (52 per cent) didn’t put any of their savings toward their retirement. Overall, most (63 per cent) Canadians surveyed haven’t set aside or saved anything for retirement in the past year, a five-point increase since 2019.

McCormick says this may be due to uncertainty or hesitancy about whether people’s immediate needs outweigh longer-term needs. And with 55 per cent of respondents noting they were very concerned about the cost of day-to-day living, he adds that rising prices have fuelled insecurity and worries so people are creating their own emergency funds right now.

While there’s a segment of the population who’ve saved more and, for them, the pandemic has created wealth, he doesn’t see this as a common narrative in the survey data. “If you don’t have access to a workplace pension or the opportunity to have things like automatic enrolment, the uncertainty of the time may have you holding onto money,” says McCormick. “In Ontario, we’re more optimistic about the pandemic than we were maybe a month ago, but there are still people worrying about whether there’ll be a fourth wave.”

In addition, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents said a retirement crisis is looming and 65 per cent said saving for retirement is prohibitively expensive. It’s a common and shared dream for many people in looking forward to a secure retirement, says McCormick, noting for many, making that dream a reality remains elusive.

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