Trump: ‘I do’ have confidence in Treasury Secretary Mnuchin

Amid tumbling stocks and president’s criticism of Federal Reserve, Trump says his treasury chief is a ‘very talented guy’ and ‘very smart person’

In this December 3, 2018, file photo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin talks with reporters at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
In this December 3, 2018, file photo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin talks with reporters at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump says he has confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling him a “very talented guy” and a “very smart person.”

Trump reiterated his view that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates too fast, but called the independent agency’s rate hikes a “form of safety” for an economy doing well.

The president lashed out at the Fed on Monday after administration officials spent the weekend trying to assure financial markets that Fed chairman Jerome Powell’s job was safe.

Trump expressed displeasure with the Fed after Mnuchin tweeted that Powell’s job was safe.

Mnuchin also tweeted that he had checked with the heads of the six largest US banks to ensure they had enough liquidity to operate in a stock market that has tumbled sharply since October.

Trump aired a catalogue of grievances in a downbeat gathering at the Oval Office.

High on the laundry list was the Democrats, whom he blamed for a partial government shutdown which dragged into its fourth day — paralyzing key federal services such as national parks — with no end in sight.

He denounced opposition lawmakers for denying him funding for his southern border wall and denounced them as hypocrites for criticizing his firing of FBI chief James Comey.

“It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country. But other than that, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas,” the president said as he fielded reporters’ questions after talking with members of the armed forces.

US President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone as he answers calls from people calling into the NORAD Santa tracker phone line in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 24, 2018. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

With the stock market on track for its worst December since the Great Depression, Trump berated the Federal Reserve for its stewardship of the economy, a regular recent complaint.

“They’re raising interest rates too fast because they think the economy is so good but I think that they will get it pretty soon, I really do,” Trump said.

His comments came after Asian markets suffered a holiday rout, with Tokyo suffering its worst finish since April 2017 after a brutal run on Wall Street that saw US stocks sink for a fourth straight session.

The stock market malaise comes with Trump refusing to sign a budget bill to keep the government funded as he demands $5 billion for a US-Mexico border wall — a pillar of his election platform.

Trump acknowledged the impasse has no foreseeable end date, telling reporters he couldn’t say when the government would fully reopen.

“I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it,” he said.

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