Economy

'I don't like Trump,' but presidential Fed bashing nothing new, says ex-Fed vice chair Blinder

Key Points
  • "People have short memories and they forget that this hands-off-the-Fed policy only began with Clinton," says economist Alan Blinder.
  • The ex-Fed vice chair says President Trump's criticism of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has been more public because of Twitter.
  • "None of it was as nasty and personal [in the past] as what President Trump has been doing to Jay Powell," he adds.
VIDEO8:0308:03
A former Fed vice chairman explains the history of presidents bashing the Fed

Economist Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve vice chairman and now a Princeton professor, does not like President Donald Trump.

He said so Friday on CNBC: "I don't like Trump."

However, Blinder said Trump's bashing of the Fed and its current chairman, Jerome Powell, is not new though it is unusually personal.

"People have short memories and they forget that this hands-off-the-Fed policy only began with Clinton," said Blinder, who served at the Fed during Bill Clinton's presidency.

"If you look earlier than Bill Clinton, there was one Fed bashing after another," he added.

Blinder did say that Trump's criticism of Powell has been more public because of Twitter. There was no Twitter or equivalent before the Clinton years in the White House from 1993 to 2001. Twitter was founded in 2006.

"None of it was as nasty and personal as what President Trump has been doing to Jay Powell [either]," Blinder said in a "Squawk Box" interview, two days after a divided Fed cut interest rates for the second time this year.

The first cut was in July, and it was the first such move in more than a decade.

Trump has repeatedly pressured Powell and the Fed to cut rates much more aggressively.

Immediately after Wednesday's Fed rate cut, the president tweeted that "Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again."

Last week, the president called Fed policymakers "boneheads" while calling for zero percent or even negative rates like other central bankers employ around the world.

Last month, Trump posed a question: "Who is our bigger enemy," Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping? (That's the same Xi who Trump has called a friend and the same Xi who Trump is in a trade war with.)

"Trump is calling Powell names like a child on a playground ... 'a bonehead,' 'a traitor,' I don't think you can find that in past history," Blinder said.

Powell is weathering Trump's verbal assaults with "backbone" and "dignity," the former Fed vice chair said. "It's a real contrast to the president who rants and raves. And Powell calmly says, 'I have a job to do. The law gives me independence from politics.'"