President Donald Trump again ripped into Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday, questioning whether he is a "bigger enemy" to the United States than Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump tweeted his attack, which misspelled the central bank chief's name before it was corrected, not long after Powell delivered a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As he uses tariffs to try to force China to change what he calls unfair trade practices, Trump has repeatedly said he does not blame Xi, a communist leader who has consolidated power in China.
His tweet came shortly after Beijing fired another shot in the trade conflict between the world's two largest economies and just before the president pushed American firms to "start looking for an alternative to China." It is unclear what authority Trump thinks he can use to stop U.S. companies from operating in China. The U.S. trades more goods with China than with any other country.
Powell promised on Friday to take the steps needed to maintain U.S. economic growth as fears about a potential recession grow. In his remarks to the Fed's annual Jackson Hole symposium, the central bank chief said the economy has "continued to perform well overall" but acknowledged "trade policy uncertainty seems to be playing a role in the global slowdown."
In a previous tweet Friday, Trump said, "as usual, the Fed did NOTHING!" It is unclear what Trump expected the central bank to do at its symposium, as it does not have a policy meeting until the middle of next month.
He also wrote that "it is incredible [Fed officials] can 'speak' without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly." Shortly after, he tweeted that American companies are "hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making products in the USA."
As Trump frets about the possibility of a recession, he has lashed out at Powell and the news media. The president has argued the Fed chairman — whom he appointed — raised interest rates too swiftly and has not moved quickly enough to cut them.
Trump has contended the U.S. economy is strong and only has one problem — the central bank, which he claims has dampened growth. The president has repeatedly said his trade war with China will not hold back the economy despite many major economists, members of the Fed and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office disagreeing with him.
China announced new tariffs Friday on another $75 billion worth of American goods, including automobiles. The duties that range between 5% and 10% will take effect in separate waves on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15. Those dates happens to be when Trump's latest tariffs on Chinese goods are to take effect.
Trump's tweets Friday followed a report that he could consider a rotation of Fed governors to check Powell's power. The president has reportedly thought about firing Powell, and the Fed chairman has said "the law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it."