President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve on Monday, describing it as the “only problem” for the U.S. economy, as top officials convened to discuss a growing rout in stock markets caused in part by the president’s attacks on the central bank, Reuters reports.
Stocks fell again on Monday amid concern about slowing economic growth, the government shutdown and reports that Trump had discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
U.S. stocks have dropped sharply in recent weeks on concerns over weaker economic growth, with the S&P 500 index .SPX on pace for its biggest percentage decline in December since the Great Depression.
In a tweet that did nothing to ease market concerns about the Fed’s cherished independence, Trump laid the blame for economic headwinds firmly at the feet of the central bank.
“The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the market,” Trump said on Twitter. “The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch - he can’t putt!”
Trump has frequently criticized the Fed’s raising of interest rates this year and has gone after Powell several times now, telling Reuters in August he was “not thrilled” with his own appointee. The Fed hiked rates again last week.
A crisis call on Monday between U.S. financial regulators and the Treasury Department failed to assure markets.
All three major indexes ended down more than 2 percent on the day before the Christmas holiday. The S&P 500 ended down about 19.8 percent from its Sept. 20 closing high, just shy of the 20 percent threshold commonly used to define a bear market.
Oil prices followed equities down, tumbling more than 6 percent to the lowest in over a year.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hosted a call with the president’s Working Group on Financial Markets, a body known colloquially as the “Plunge Protection team,” which normally only convenes during times of heavy market volatility.
Regulators on the call said they not seeing anything out of the ordinary in financial markets during the recent sell-off and also discussed how they will continue critical operations during the partial government shutdown, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Mnuchin also made calls to top U.S. bankers on Sunday and got reassurances that banks were still able to make loans, the Treasury said.