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World

US Fed chairman's job '100pc' safe: Trump advisor

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has no intention of firing the chairman of the Federal Reserve, despite his barrages

Dec 26 2018

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has no intention of firing the chairman of the Federal Reserve, despite his barrages of criticism against the central bank, White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett said Wednesday.

"Yes, of course, 100 percent," Hassett said when asked on ABC television whether Fed boss Jerome Powell would keep his job.

Hassett also downplayed jitters over the economic outlook, following plummeting stock market prices.

"All the anecdotal information we're getting is that the fundamentals remain extremely sound," Hassett said, as Wall Street bounced back from its most recent losses.

Hassett said that Christmas-period shopping had been "through the roof" and that the economy was still expanding at a good pace, with "the momentum that we saw this year... carrying over to next year."

The Trump advisor likewise sought to calm nerves triggered by revelations that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin phoned the CEOs of America's biggest banks last weekend to check that they have healthy liquidity levels.

The calls -- apparently meant to demonstrate the White House's grip on the volatile situation -- backfired by sparking concerns that the government might be worried about a run on the banks.

"Secretary Mnuchin talks to bankers all the time, practically every day and you know, the markets clearly are focused on downside risk for next year and it's important to gather information from the normal sources and from informal sources and you know," Hassett said.

"We've all been doing that really quite a bit over the few weeks."

Hassett said that the ongoing budget impasse in which swaths of the federal government are going without funding, due to Congress' refusal to authorize Trump's demand for more money on a US-Mexico border barrier, would not harm the economy.

"A few weeks shutdown is not going to be something that has any kind of significant effect on the outlook," he said.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on reports that Trump is planning to meet with the Fed's Powell in the near future. Trump has repeatedly and publicly lambasted Powell over the central bank's raising of interest rates.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2018