Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker Has Advice for Jerome Powell on How to Handle Trump’s Attacks
The Dow tumbled 600 points yesterday and the Nasdaq moved into correction territory, as traders worried about rising interest rates and the possibility that the Fed will make a “policy mistake.” President Donald Trump fed those concerns in an interview in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, criticizing Fed chief Jerome Powell. “Every time we do something great, he raises interest rates,” Trump said, adding that Powell “almost looks like he’s happy raising interest rates.”
Yesterday evening, I visited one of the few people who understands what it’s like to be in Powell’s shoes: former Fed chief Paul Volcker. Volcker famously saved the U.S. economy from double-digit inflation in the 1980s by jacking up rates, despite massive criticism. I asked him what advice he would give his successor about handling White House attacks, and he responded: “You’ve got to ignore it,” adding that it’s “more significant when the Congress opposes you,” because Congress actually has the power to rein in the Fed’s independence.
Powell apparently has learned that lesson. A Reuters report yesterday said the savvy Fed chair had at least 33 meetings with members of Congress in June, July and August, according to Fed calendars, and had three times as many congressional meetings in his first seven months in office as did his predecessor, Janet Yellen.
Volcker, who has been ill, is doing a few interviews to promote his new book, Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government, out next week. He said that while Fed watchers tend to focus on monetary policy, “what we have learned in the last 30 years is how important a strong regulatory system is…. Regulation, in a way, is the greatest challenge.” The reason? “Regulation is much more heavily lobbied” than monetary policy.
A version of this story first appeared in Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter. Subscribe here.