This summer, President Donald Trump twice overstepped traditional norms by criticizing the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates. That drew disapproval from observers who worried that the White House would erode the central bank’s independence. But Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell remains stoic about the controversy—and a little bit wry.
“My focus is on controlling the controllable,” he said Wednesday at The Atlantic Festival in Washington, drawing knowing laughter from the crowd. “We control what we do at the Fed.”
Of course, trying to keep a steady hand on the economy is perhaps even more complicated than trying to keep Trump on course—and has similarly high stakes. The good news for Powell, whom Trump appointed in 2017, is that the economy is chugging along nicely, with the unemployment rate at its lowest in decades, growth strong, and inflation steady. The question is whether that can last, with some economists wondering whether a new recession is overdue. Powell’s interviewer, Judy Woodruff, posed just that question to him, asking whether the rosy current moment can last indefinitely.
“Indefinitely is a long time,” Powell said. “Not every business cycle is going to last forever, but no reason to believe this cycle can’t go on for quite some time, effectively indefinitely.”