Fed official says Trump won’t influence rate policy

WASHINGTON – A top Federal Reserve official said she favors two more interest rate increases this year despite complaints from President Donald Trump that the Fed’s continuing rate hikes risk slowing the U.S. economy.

Esther George, president of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank, said she thinks two more rate hikes this year “could be appropriate,” adding that Trump’s comments won’t affect her policy stance.

Her remarks come as central bankers gather for an annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“Expressions of angst about higher interest rates are not unique to this administration,” George said in a CNBC interview. “Congress anticipated this kind of tension when they designed the central bank, and they put firewalls in place so that the central bank can be independent and carry forward with its decision making.”

In a research note today, Oxford Economics weighed in on the topic. “While the independence of central banks is often taken for granted in advanced economies, it is a relatively novel concept,” the firm said. “We believe central bank independence is and must remain a guiding principle for monetary policy. While low inflation may lure us into a false sense of comfort, the US inflationary experience of the 1970s should remind us that political influence on central banks can have dire consequences for an economy.”

Analysts at Deutsche Bank wrote in a release today that “we do not expect Fed Chair [Jerome] Powell’s speech to move market expectations in either a more hawkish or dovish direction. In our view, Powell’s discussion will likely focus on longer-term issues for monetary policy, much as Wednesday’s FOMC minutes did.”

Powell is scheduled to deliver an address on Friday titled “Monetary Policy in a Changing Economy.”

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