Cohn says Trump shouldn't comment on independent agencies

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell Credit SAUL LOEB AFP

However, some signals, including inflation, that the Fed uses to decide whether to apply the brakes to the economy through a higher interest rate, may be muddled and masking more worrying developments.

Trump has blamed the market's big sell-off on rising rates and has described the Fed as being "out of control".

Late last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that despite Trump's attacks on the Fed, the president respects the central bank's independence.

"I'm not happy with what he's doing because it's going too fast" in raising rates at a time when inflation has remained relatively low. Earlier this month, Trump said he thought the Fed was "making a mistake" by raising interest rates.

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Randal Quarles, the US central bank's vice chair of supervision, who rarely discusses monetary policy, said he was optimistic about the economy's prospects, and that calls for continued "stable, gradual, and predictable" policy tightening.

Minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting in September showed yet another strong defense for policy makers to maintain their current path of gradually raising rates.

"There are a lot of other people there I'm not so happy with", he said. Jerome Powell, whom Trump chose as chairman after deciding not to offer Janet Yellen a second term, has said the Fed won't be influenced by outside criticism in managing the economy to try to maximize employment and keep prices stable. The Fed has always been seen as needing to remain free of political pressure to properly manage rates, and presidents have generally respected that independence, especially publicly.

Policymakers expect to raise rates again in December, and several times next year before the central bank's benchmark overnight lending rate reaches a "restrictive" level of around 3.40 percent sometime in 2020, according to the most recent set of Fed economic projections.

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A couple of policymakers said the Fed should hold a "periodic and systematic review of the strengths and weaknesses" of the Fed's monetary policy framework. "The Fed is going to try to demonstrate that it's totally independent and it's not going to react to that". Recent data has been in line with its portrait of a strong economy that has a "remarkably positive" outlook, Powell said on October 2.

However, the same Fed minutes also noted global growth concerns and worries the USA dollar could sink lower, explaining the somewhat hawkish view on U.S. markets overnight.

"I think there is some potential for labor force participation to move up, perhaps as workers respond to the incentives of plentiful job opportunities and higher wages", said Quarles, "thereby adding to the productive capacity of the economy and pushing back the constraints on growth".

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