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Trump labels Fed’s Powell as his ‘most improved player’

Peter Wells in New York

Donald Trump has described Jerome Powell as his “most improved player” for the Federal Reserve chairman’s swift moves in cutting interest rates in the US to near zero to support the economy through the pandemic.

“He has done a very good job over the last couple of months, I have to tell you that,” the president said at the White House on Wednesday.

“Because I have been critical but in many ways I call him my MIP. Do you know what an MIP is? It’s the most improved player.”

The comments bestow upon Mr Powell an honour typically reserved for hard-working professional basketballers, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, but also represents an improvement in the president’s sentiment towards the head of the Fed. Mr Trump last year said via Twitter message that the central bankers were “Boneheads” for not, at the time, cutting ” interest rates down to ZERO, or less”.

The path to potential Most Valuable Player status in the president’s eyes may prove elusive for Mr Powell. Mr Trump said he only disagrees with him on one thing – negative rates – even though the Fed chair said earlier today he had little interest in taking borrowing costs below zero.

“I’m a believer in negative rates only if other countries that are competitors,” Mr Trump said. “Look, Germany, they’re an ally, they’re friends of ours, they’re still competitors on other things. So, Germany, Japan, others have negative rates and I think if they do, we’re the most prime of the world.”

“Certainly, if they have the advantage of negative rates, we should, too.”

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