WASHINGTON — President Trump complained to wealthy donors at a fund-raiser in the Hamptons last week that the man he chose as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, has disappointed him by raising interest rates, according to people who attended the event.
In the midst of a long riff on the economy, Mr. Trump said that he had expected Mr. Powell to adhere to an easy-money monetary policy, by keeping interest rates low, when he nominated Mr. Powell in November to succeed Janet L. Yellen. Instead, Mr. Powell has continued Ms. Yellen’s pace of gradual return to historically normal rates, by raising rates twice this year.
Mr. Trump publicly criticized the Fed this summer, breaking with decades of presidential convention. “I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up,” Mr. Trump told CNBC in a televised interview in July. “I am not happy about it.”
The next day, Mr. Trump appeared to criticize the Fed again on Twitter.
Aides have said that Mr. Trump worries that additional rate increases could slow economic growth, which is on track to reach 3 percent this year for the first time since 2005. They have insisted that Mr. Trump was not trying to intervene in Fed policy, which has historically operated independently from the executive branch, and was simply expressing his opinion. Mr. Trump also criticized Ms. Yellen as a presidential candidate in 2016, saying she should be “ashamed of herself” for keeping interest rates low.
Mr. Trump’s comments about Mr. Powell were first reported by Bloomberg. A Fed spokeswoman declined to comment on Monday afternoon.
Mr. Powell’s moves as Fed chairman have not surprised markets, nor struck Fed watchers as unexpected. In a confirmation hearing last year, shortly after Mr. Trump nominated him to the position, he told senators he expected the Fed to continue raising interest rates in the near term.
Fed officials, including Mr. Powell, have long said they are gradually raising interest rates in order to balance the need to support economic growth — and the return of the economy to maximum employment — and guard against a rapid increase in inflation, which can occur when growth runs too hot with very low unemployment.
Mr. Powell has not responded publicly to the criticism, but at the end of a Fed meeting this month, officials signaled they remained on track to raise interest rates twice more this year.
Mr. Trump considered several candidates to lead the Fed. None of them were widely viewed to be likely to stop raising interest rates this year. His three reported finalists were John Taylor, a Stanford University economist who has long argued for a mathematical “rules based” approach to interest rates that suggests rates should be higher than they currently are; Ms. Yellen, who raised rates three times in Mr. Trump’s first year as president; and Mr. Powell, who voted for all three of those rate increases as a Fed governor.
Fed nominees are typically noncommital when asked about interest rates in their confirmation hearings, but Mr. Powell suggested in his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee last year that he was likely to stay the course that Ms. Yellen had set on rate increases.
“If confirmed, I would strive, along with my colleagues, to support the economy’s continued progress toward full recovery,” he said. “Our aim is to sustain a strong jobs market with inflation moving gradually up toward our target. We expect interest rates to rise somewhat further and the size of our balance sheet to gradually shrink.”