Powell: Fed is human, makes mistakes – ‘but we’re not going to make mistakes of character or integrity’

The Federal Reserve cares only about “doing its job for the American people” and “never takes political considerations into account” as part of its work, the chairman of the central bank’s board said Wednesday.

Fed Chairman Jerome H. (“Jay”) Powell, during a press conference following the meeting Wednesday of the central bank’s rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), responded to a reporter’s question. The reporter noted that the committee, in a statement released following its meeting, had chosen “patience” with regard to changes in interest rates, and was making no changes.

President Donald Trump has been sharply critical of the Fed – and Powell in particular – of recent moves by the Fed to nudge interest rates higher.

“How do you respond to those who would suggest that the Fed just caved to the president’s demands,” the reporter, Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times asked.

Powell, in response, defended the Fed’s role – and, by way of that, its independence – in his reply.

“What we care about – and really the only thing we care about – is doing our job for the American people and using our tools appropriately,” Powell said.

“That’s very strongly our culture,” he said. “I think anyone who knows the Fed, or has worked at the Fed, would recognize that description.”

He said the central bank is “always going to do what we think is the right thing” and will never “take political considerations into account or discuss them as part of our work.”

He acknowledged that those who work at the Fed are human and make mistakes. “But we’re we’re not going to make mistakes of character or integrity,” Powell said.

He said he wanted the public to know that position – “and to see that in our actions.”