U.S. President Donald Trump and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell dined at the White House on Monday in their first meeting after months in which Trump lambasted the central bank for raising interest rates and, in the president's view, endangering the economy's growth. The dinner, which included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Vice chair Richard Clarida, follows a Fed meeting last week at which the central bank said, in fact, that further rate hikes were on hold for now - a step Powell and others said was based on recent economic developments, not the president's public tirades against the Fed.
In a statement after the hour-and-a-half steak dinner, the Fed said Powell delivered that same message to the president, and that the group did not discuss "expectations for monetary policy." The dinner was held "at the President's invitation...to discuss recent economic developments and the outlook for growth, employment and inflation."
Powell "did not discuss his expectations for monetary policy, except to stress that the path of policy will depend entirely on incoming economic information and what that means for the outlook," the Fed statement said. "Chair Powell said that he and his colleagues...will make those decisions based solely on careful, objective and non-political analysis." The dinner is the first session between Trump and Powell since the new Fed chair took over a year ago.
The ability of the Fed to set policy free of direct political influence is considered a key part of its effectiveness and credibility with households and global investors. The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment about the session.
(With inputs from agencies.)