Early Thursday, Esther George sat down with CNBC’s Steve Liesman at Jackson Hole and flatly declined to budge on her contention that July’s rate cut was unnecessary.
“My sense was we’ve added accommodation and it wasn’t required”, she said.
That, frankly, means she isn’t likely to support a follow-up cut in September.
Shortly thereafter, Liesman spoke to Patrick Harker (a non-voter this year). His remarks aren’t likely to please Donald Trump any more than George’s dismissive rhetoric.
“So, in December I was not supportive of the increase, I was supportive of the [July] decrease somewhat reluctantly”, Harker said. Here’s the clip:
(If the video does not load, please refresh your page – full clip here)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but there isn’t much to like there if you’re the White House.
Or, actually, that’s not true. Harker notes that “the labor market is strong”, which should please the president, were it not for the cognitive dissonance inherent in talking up the strength of the economy while simultaneously insisting on lower rates.
“Nothing is moving dramatically in a negative direction”, Harker continued, adding that “if the tariffs kick in and hit the consumer, then I’m more worried”.
Earlier this month, Trump of course delayed tariffs on key consumer goods in the interest of not “hitting” the consumer headed into the holiday shopping season.
Harker expounded a bit further on the July action. “I didn’t think the cut was appropriate, necessarily, but I went along with it to get back to neutral”, he said.
Liesman also asked about Trump’s Germany tweets. The president has been railing against lower policy rates abroad for the better part of two years, but starting Wednesday, he became obsessed with German borrowing costs after Berlin sold 30-year, zero coupon bonds.
Harker essentially laughed at the president. When asked about the risk of commenting just as Trump tweets, he grinned widely, before reminding everyone that the Fed doesn’t set policy based on what the ECB and the BoJ are doing.
Let’s just say Harker won’t be in the running for Jerome Powell’s soon-to-be-vacant position.