Tag Archives: Federal Reserve Board

Tariffs harm U.S. economy, experts say

It turns out that Donald Trump’s alleged expertise on international trade policy is, shall we say, a bit overstated.

Put another way, the president’s decision to impose tariffs on imported goods has harmed U.S. taxpayers and cost American jobs he vowed would return in droves.

Whose analysis is this? The Federal Reserve has released a study laying out what it says has been the impact of the tariffs across the land. It hasn’t been good, according to the Fed analysis.

This likely will bring some recrimination from Trump, who will say the numbers are wrong, they’re cooked up in some star chamber kitchen and that they’re intended to throw the upcoming election into his opponents’ corner.

As The Hill reports: “We find that tariff increases enacted in 2018 are associated with relative reductions in manufacturing employment and relative increases in producer prices,” the report by Fed economists Aaron Flaaen and Justin Pierce reads.

This is pretty in line with what many economists have said all along about tariffs, which is that they don’t harm the producers of the goods being imported into this country, but that they inflate the prices we pay here.

Trump is having none of it. He keeps insisting that tariffs are part of a successful strategy to “put America first.” He wants to punish countries that don’t play fair in the game of international trade. I certainly understand the president’s stated reason for wanting a fairer playing field.

Why, though, must he invoke tariffs that do two things immediately? They boost prices on imported goods, which is a de facto tax and they rattle the daylights out of financial markets, affecting the retirement portfolios of millions of Americans … such as, well — my wife and me!

This so-called trade policy damn sure isn’t making America great again.

Second hack bows out of Fed job hunt

Donald Trump sought to seat two partisan hacks on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

One of them, Herman “9-9-9” Cain pulled out. The Godfather’s Pizza mogul faced questions and allegations concerning sexual harassment. Never mind that he had next to zero knowledge of what the Fed actually does. He’s out!

Now we hear that Stephen Moore, another Fed critic, has pulled his name out of consideration. Moore writes occasionally for the Wall Street Journal, appears on Fox News Channel and bashes the Fed whenever someone prompts him to do so.

Moore also has spoken badly about the role of women in the workplace.

Donald Trump finds these individuals in search of individuals who would enable him to politicize the Fed, which historically a decidedly non-partisan organization. It helps set economic policy without regard to any loyalty to the president who appoints the Board of Governors.

The president keeps yapping about how many highly qualified individuals are lining up to work in the federal government while he is on the watch. Herman Cain and Stephen Moore didn’t fit the bill.

Get busy, Mr. President, and present those individuals you keep saying are out there.

What’s Trump trying to do with the Fed?

I cannot begin to comment in any detail about federal economic policy. But I do wonder about a couple of nominations planned for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Donald Trump appears to be angry with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. So what’s he going to do? He has nominated Stephen Moore, a non-economist and a vocal Powell critic, as a Fed governor. What’s more, Trump is slated to nominate Godfather’s pizza mogul and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to another governor’s post; oh, yeah, Cain also is a Powell critic. Cain also has the specter of sexual harassment allegations hanging over him.

I long have thought the Fed was beyond partisanship. It is supposed to regulate economic activity. It sets interest rates. It can reduce them when the economy is struggling; it can increase them when the economy prospers.

Trump, who selected Powell to replace Janet Yellen as Fed chairman, has been openly critical of the rate increases that have occurred on Powell’s watch.

Now he wants to put a couple of fellow Powell critics on the board?

Is that how the Fed is supposed to operate? I don’t believe the Fed should be politicized in this fashion.

Economy gives GOP reason to cheer Obama policies

I can sense it, sort of.

The Labor Department said today the economy created 203,000 jobs in October. The jobless rate fell to 7 percent, the lowest level in five years. The jobs report provided the first “clean” look at the state of the economy, according to Politico.com, meaning a report that wasn’t shaded by the government shutdown and other external political factors.

And … the Federal Reserve Board just might start dialing back its stimulus efforts with the realization that the economy is finally — finally! — gaining some actual strength.


What am I sensing? The Republican leadership in Congress might be willing to give President Obama a little bit of credit for what appears to be a full-blown economic recovery.

I say “might be willing.” Whether it happens is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps the most encouraging element of this report, if you’re a Republican, is that the Fed might start drawing back on the bond-buying program it had instituted to help jump-start the economy. This government “intrusion” is anathema to congressional Republicans. It well might be that the Fed has seen enough improvement in the economy — which includes significant strength in the private sector — that it no longer has to pump billions of dollars to keep the economic engines running.

The stock market gets jittery at that kind of news. Still, the market took off like a rocket today when the jobs figures came out. It helped yours truly’s retirement account immensely, for which I am grateful.

The president cannot get a break these days, what with the Affordable Care Act rollout being the disaster it has become. That problem appears fixed, too.

Remember when the economy was Issue No. 1 in the GOP’s plan to defeat President Obama’s attempt at re-election? It didn’t work. Voter returned him to office for another four years.

Today’s jobs report seems to suggest that’s why virtually no one is talking smack about the economy these days.

Soon-to-be-ex-Gov. Perry reintroduces himself

Here he comes again, the man formerly known as Gov. Goodhair is returning to the national stage.

Rick Perry is about one year away from the end of his interminable tenure as Texas governor. He is not about to disappear. He won’t be heading back to Paint Creek to write poetry or learn how to paint. He’s coming back to the national stage … or so it seems.

Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey has written a fabulous analysis of Perry’s latest effort to rebrand himself, possibly setting himself up for another run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.


Ramsey cautions skeptics — such as myself — to avoid dismissing Perry’s effort at rebranding. Ramsey writes: “Joke all you want, but watch: The governor is pretty good at this sort of maneuver. He was a Democrat who loaned his time to Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign, when the Republican nominee was a Texan named George H.W. Bush. Two years later, as a Republican, Perry ambushed the state’s popular agriculture commissioner, Jim Hightower, a Democrat, in a statewide race that set him on his current political trajectory.”

Ramsey is a smart fellow who’s covered Texas politics like a blanket perhaps since The Flood. He knows Perry better than most journalists.

I still have trouble buying into the notion, though, that the governor who flamed out so miserably before the 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign really go started can re-tool himself sufficiently to make voters forget all the gaffes, goofs and guffaws he produced.

His “oops” moment will go down in history as a classic. Perry’s loose talk of secession in 2009 won’t play well in Yankee territory, which as a national candidate for president he will need. Remember when he accused of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke of committing a “treasonous act” by printing all that money?

This is just a sample of the kinds of issues his foes — even those within his own Republican Party — will be more than happy to throw back at him.

I’ve long thought of Perry as more than a guy with good hair. He has tremendous instincts when it comes to Texas politics. He knows his native state well and knows the people who live here.

Still, the late columnist Molly Ivins’s apt Gov. Goodhair moniker does seem to fit, which explains, according to Ross Ramsey, why Perry has donned black-framed eyeglasses in recent public appearances.

Get ready, America. You’re about to get a lot more of Rick Perry than ever before.

I’ll paraphrase comments I heard during Perry’s first run for president in 2012 that came from devoted Texas Panhandle Republicans. They were pulling for Perry to win the White House “just to get him out of Texas.”