White House

Trump blasts Federal Reserve, U.S. Chamber over trade, interest rates

President threatens to leave business organization in what appeared to be unplanned phone interview with CNBC

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., in May. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday morning in what appeared to be an unplanned telephone interview with CNBC.

Trump again criticized the Federal Reserve Board for having raised interest rates, especially while the president said China was allowing its currency to be weakened in part to mitigate the effects of U.S. tariffs.

“They certainly didn’t listen to me because they made a big mistake,” Trump said of the Fed. “They raised interest rates far too fast. That’s number one. Number two, they did quantitative tightening.”

The president noted that unlike in the United States where the Federal Reserve board is an independent agency, President Xi Jinping effectively controls interest rates and other fiscal policy matters in China.

“Don’t forget, the head of the Fed of China is President Xi, the president of China, he is also the head of the Fed. He can do whatever he wants. They devalue, they loosen or you would just say they pump a lot of money into China,” Trump said. “It nullifies to an extent, not fully, it nullifies the tariffs.”

[Trump’s tariffs on China won’t have much of an effect, IMF says]

Trump appeared to call in to offer a direct response to a TV interview in which U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Myron Brilliant criticized the president’s tariffs and tariff threats.

[Trump announces deal with Mexico to avoid tariffs]

Rather than responding to the Chamber in a tweet, Trump was on the phone with the network’s “Squawk Box” morning show to respond to the interview.

“I guess he’s not so brilliant,” Trump said.

“With Mexico, what’s going to happen is all the companies would immediately move into the United States. You’d have car plants going up all over the country, and there would be no tariff. From my standpoint, it’s a no-brainer, and it’s only the Chamber of Commerce, who’s representing many of these companies like General Motors I’m sure is a member,” he said. “They build a car in China and they sent it into the United States. Same with Ford, same with other. Now, with a 25-percent wall, those plants, those plants don’t work anymore. They made a bad investment.”

Trump said that in his view the Chamber was seeking to defend the interests of member business organizations with significant operations in China and Mexico.

“I’m a member of the U.S. Chamber,” Trump said. “Maybe I’ll have to rethink that.”

“He’s not protecting our country. He’s doing a very big disservice,” Trump said of Brilliant. “He’s protecting all of those companies that are members.”

During the interview, Trump also expressed some concern about the announced merger plans between United Technologies and Raytheon, citing the possibility of reduced competition among defense contractors. He noted that he has purchased many elevators from Otis and HVAC systems from Carrier, both which have been divisions of United Technologies.

“When I hear they’re merging, does that take away more competition? It becomes one big, fat, beautiful company, but I have to negotiate, meaning the United States has to buy things,” Trump said. “And does that make it less competitive?”

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