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September 17, 2019
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‘Who is our bigger enemy,’ Fed Chairman Powell or Chinese President Xi?

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President Donald Trump talks to journalists while departing the White House August 01, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

President Donald Trump again ripped into Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday, questioning whether he is a “bigger enemy” to the United States than Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump tweeted his attack, which misspelled the central bank chief’s name before it was corrected, not long after the text of Powell’s speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was made public. As he uses tariffs to try to force China to change what he calls unfair trade practices, Trump has repeatedly said he does not blame Xi, a communist leader who has consolidated power in China. 

Powell on Friday promised to take the steps needed to maintain U.S. economic growth as fears about a potential recession grow. In his remarks to the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium, the central bank chief said the economy has “continued to perform well overall” but acknowledged “trade policy uncertainty seems to be playing a role in the global slowdown.”

In a previous tweet Friday, Trump said, “as usual, the Fed did NOTHING!” It is unclear what Trump expected the central bank to do at its symposium, as it does not have a policy meeting until the middle of next month. 

He also wrote that “it is incredible [Fed officials] can ‘speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly.” Shortly after, he tweeted that American companies are “hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making products in the USA.” 

Major U.S. stock indexes slid following Trump’s comments. 

As Trump frets about the possibility of a recession, he has lashed out at both Powell and the news media. The president has argued the Fed chairman — whom he appointed — raised interest rates too swiftly and has not moved quickly enough to cut them.

Trump has contended the U.S. economy is strong and only has one problem in the central bank, which he claims has held back growth. The president has repeatedly said his trade war with China will not hold back the economy despite many major economists, members of the Fed and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office disagreeing with him.

China announced new tariffs Friday on another $75 billion worth of American goods, including automobiles. The duties that range between 5% and 10% will take effect in separate waves in September and December. 

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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