Washington: President Donald Trump has intensified his attack on the US Federal Reserve following this week’s plunge in stock prices, saying the central bank is “out of control” in raising interest rates, but ruled out firing its head Jerome Powell.
Trump’s remarks on Thursday were the latest in series of recent barrages he has unleashed at the Fed. The Fed under his hand-picked chairman Powell has been gradually raising rates as the economy has strengthened to prevent a run-up in inflation.
“I think the Fed is out of control. I think what they’re doing is wrong. Under the Obama administration, you had a lot of help because they had very little interest,” Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday while responding to questions on the down sliding of the stock market for a second consecutive day.
Donald Trump’s critical comments of the US Fed held back some stocks on Tuesday, while the dollar fell for a fourth consecutive day in its worst spell since March. As David Pollard reports, Trump said he was “not thrilled” with the Federal Reserve under his own appointee, Chairman Jerome Powell, for raising interest rates and said the Fed should do more to help him to boost the economy.
While the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 546 points, the S&P 500 tumbled 2.1 per cent and Nasdaq Composite by 1.3 per cent.
“When you talk about economies, our economy is far better than that. But we have actually — we’re paying interest. They weren’t. They were using the funny money. But I think the Fed is far too stringent, and they’re making a mistake and it’s not right. Despite that, we’re doing very well but it’s not necessary, in my opinion. I think I know about it,” he said.
At the same time, he ruled out firing Federal Reserve Chairman Powell.
“No, I’m not going to fire him. I’m just disappointed at the clip. I think it’s far too fast. Far too rigid, far too fast,” Trump said.
The president said the markets were way up over what they were. “It’s a correction that I think is caused by the Federal Reserve with interest rates. The dollar has become very strong, which, frankly, people can debate whether or not they like a strong dollar or not,” he said.
Asserting that the dollar is very strong and powerful, he said that causes a little difficulty with doing business. “A strong dollar doesn’t necessarily mean all good, but we do have a very strong dollar. And we have interest rates going up at a clip that’s much faster than certainly a lot of people, including myself, would have anticipated,” the US president said.
Trump’s criticism of the Fed has raised concerns over its ability to operate free of political pressure.
On Wednesday, Trump said, “The Fed is going wild. I don’t know what their problem is. They are raising interest rates and it’s ridiculous. … The Fed is going loco, and there is no reason for them to do it and I’m not happy about it.”
Trump to meet Kim Jong-un again in late February: White House
WASHINGTON: The White House announced that US President Donald Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late February.
During the meeting, the two leaders will hold talks over the steps taken by Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear and missile programmes. It may be recalled that the first meeting between the two leaders was held on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. The White House, however, did not reveal where the two leaders will meet in February.
The White House made the announcement shortly after Trump held a meeting with North Korean envoy, Kim Yong Chol, on Friday for a discussion that included talk about Kim Jong-un’s unfulfilled pledge to dismantle nuclear weapons programmes of North Korea.
“President Donald J Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February. The president looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The press secretary told reporters: “We continue to make progress, we continue to have conversations. The US is going to continue to keep “pressure and sanctions” on North Korea until “we see fully and verifiable denuclearization”. We had very good steps and very good faith from the North Koreans with the release of hostages and other moves and so we’ll continue this conversation.And the President looks forward to it next February.”
Kim yong Chol arrived at the White House after meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun at a hotel in Washington.
“The Secretary, Special Representative Biegun, and Vice Chairman Kim discussed efforts to make progress on the commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore. At the conclusion of the Secretary’s meeting with Vice Chairman Kim, the two sides held a productive first meeting at the working level,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said.
Blast targets Al Qaeda ally in Syria, kills 11
BEIRUT: An explosion outside an office belonging to an Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria’s northwest killed at least 11 people and wounded several others, opposition activists said.
The blast comes a week after members of the Al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee, or HTS, took over control of wide parts of Idlib province and the surrounding countryside after forcing rival insurgents to accept a deal for a civil administration run by HTS in their areas.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Smart news agency, an activist collective, said the blast occurred on the southern edge of the rebel-held city of Idlib.
The observatory said 11 people were killed in the blast, including seven HTS members. Smart said 12 people were killed, many of them militants.
In the country’s east, an air strike in the last area held by the militant Islamic State group killed at least 20 people.
State news agency SANA said 20 people were killed in the air strike on the IS-held village of Baghouz, while the observatory said 23 people were killed including 10 IS members.
They both blamed the US-led coalition that has been providing air cover to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their monthslong offensive to capture the area from extremists near the Iraqi border.
The SDF has intensified its offensive over the past weeks on the IS-held area.
Meanwhile in Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan met with US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to discuss the situation in Syria as the United States prepares to withdraw troops.
Graham, a prominent voice on foreign affairs in the US, met with Erdogan and other Turkish officials on Friday for talks that were also expected to include a proposal for the creation of a “safe zone” in northeast Syria.
The visit comes days after a suicide bombing, claimed by IS, killed two US service members and two American civilians in the northeastern town of Manbij.
Graham has said he is concerned that US President Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal announcement had emboldened IS militants and created dangerous uncertainty for American allies.
The Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed in the suicide bomb attack in Manbij Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, from upstate New York and based at Fort Meade, Maryland; and a civilian, Scott A. Wirtz, from St. Louis.
The Pentagon hasn’t identified the fourth casualty, a civilian contractor.
Pakistan rules out India’s role in Afghan peace process
Islamabad: Pakistan has ruled out any role for India in the Afghan peace process, the media reported on Friday.
“India has no role in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing on Thursday while responding to a query about Islamabad’s position on New Delhi’s part in the reconciliation process.
Faisal acknowledged that Pakistan has a difficult relationship with India, saying that despite Pakistan’s efforts for normalisation, no concrete progress could be achieved in ties with India, Dawn news reported.
“You all know that India is not willing to engage with Pakistan,” he reminded.
Faisal’s remarks were in sharp contrast to what Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told the National Assembly last month.
“Since India is present in Afghanistan, its cooperation in this regard (facilitating a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict) will also be required,” he had told legislators.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan on Thursday to discuss with the senior civil and military leadership the latest efforts to bring peace to the war-torn country.
Khalilzad, who met Taliban representatives last month in Abu Dhabi, is leading an inter-agency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from January 8-21 to “facilitate a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan”.