Trump Says He's 'Not Thrilled' About US Interest Rate Hikes

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Jae C. Hong AP Images

President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to place tariffs on all goods imported by the USA from China in a major escalation of the burgeoning trade war between the two nations.

Asked on CNBC if he is ready to go to $500 billion - a number that almost matches the $505 billion in products that China exported to the U.S.in 2017 - Trump said, "I'm ready to go to 500". "Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again".

For the second day in a row, President Trump on Friday ripped the Federal Reserve for hiking interest rates - continuing an aggressive assault on the central bank, which is normally off limits from presidential attacks.

Those comments, plus Trump's criticism of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, had sent the dollar tumbling against a basket of currencies.

Trump added that he was concerned that the Fed's rate hikes may put the United States at a "disadvantage" while the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank keep their monetary policy loose. But he also told CNBC during the campaign that he is a "low interest-rate-person".

For years presidents have avoided commenting on the Fed, which markets broadly trust to act in service of its dual objective - maintaining maximum inflation and stable prices - rather than a political aim.

Trump's comments come amid a multitude of trade threats between major economies around the globe and after his initial tariffs on Chinese goods sparked a major conflict.

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His comments drew concern that Trump was trying to put political pressure on the Fed.

"I don't want them to be scared", he told CNBC. It would hurt both countries, but China's "state-run government can do more to artificially prop up its economy" and a cratering USA economy would nearly surely hurt Trump's presidency.

Beijing is targeting sectors, like agriculture, that could harm Trump politically at home, though he said in the CNBC interview that he is seeking to do only what is fair.

"It breaks with the consistency in the dollar messaging that we've had over the last 25 years, which has provided a strong backstop for market-determined exchange rates", said Shaun Osborne, chief foreign-exchange strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. "Debt coming due & we are raising rates - Really?" he tweeted.

Last week, Powell said in an interview with American radio program Marketplace that he didn't expect to face pressure from the White House. Past presidents have also steered clear of commenting on US monetary policy out of respect for the Fed's independence so the path of borrowing costs doesn't move with the whims of politicians. But while the Federal Reserve's current benchmark rate is less than half of China's, the Fed is in the middle of steadily ratcheting its lending rate higher. "I don't like all of this work that we're putting into the economy and then I see rates going up".

Interested in Donald Trump? The central bank is expected to hike two more times this year.

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