“No” was the curt answer to the question of “would you resign if President Trump asked you to” that the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board offered at a Friday morning conference in Atlanta.
Chairman Jerome H. (“Jay”) Powell, appearing in a roundtable discussion with former Fed Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen at a conference sponsored by the American Economics Association (AEA), was asked by moderator Neil Irwin of the New York Times if he would resign at the request of President Donald Trump. Powell answered simply “no.”
The current Fed chairman has been criticized by the president after the central bank’s policy-setting committee has voted to raise interest rates. In the past, Powell has responded to the criticism by saying the Federal Reserve will continue to go about its business and not be distracted by political considerations.
Friday, however, was the first time he responded to a question about his future at the Fed, which comes with a background of the president reportedly inquiring how (or if) he should fire or demote Powell from the chair of the Fed’s board of governors.
Prior to rejecting resignation, Powell said he had heard nothing from the White House about the “path of rates” or about his job as Fed chairman. “I have no news for you on that,” Powell said (as the audience of economists and press – perhaps nervously – snickered in the background).
Powell also said he had “no news” about scheduling a face-to-face meeting at the White House with the president – although he noted that “meetings between president and Fed chairs do happen … I can’t think of any Fed chairs who didn’t meet with the president. But, again, nothing has been scheduled.”