Blog: ‘Trump Wanted Someone to Look More Like His Version of a Central Bank Head’ – POLITICO

Although Fed chairs are supposed to be independent of partisan politics, just two months shy of Election Day, Janet Yellen found herself unwillingly drawn into the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Sept. 12, 2016, during an interview on CNBC, Republican nominee Donald Trump accused Yellen of keeping interest rates low to boost the stock market and burnish President Barack Obama’s legacy. Then she would raise rates and the market would collapse, he predicted. “She’s keeping them artificially low to get Obama retired,” he said. “Watch what is going to happen afterwards. It is a very serious problem … and to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself.”

Yellen had opened herself up for such an attack because the Fed hadn’t raised rates since it nudged them up from zero to a quarter of a percent in December 2015. The markets had been expecting three more rate hikes in 2016, but Yellen delayed doing so because of an economic slowdown triggered by financial turmoil and surprisingly weak growth around the world. That gave Republicans an excuse to accuse her of trying to help elect Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

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