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President Trump Has Much To Learn From The Fed's Jerome Powell

The US economy contracted by 4.8 per cent in the first quarter - the fastest rate of contraction since 2008.


This isn't good, not just for the world's largest economy, but also for the rest of the world. And a bad situation could easily get worse because of the absence of leadership from the US and President Donald Trump.


Trump lacks the temperament and leadership skills that are imperative in bringing people together against a common threat, that requires concerted and coordinated international action like the coronavirus.

Trump's personality is not suited to the thoughtfulness and collegial approach to solving a global crisis. He is more at ease pointing at others and blaming subordinates for his own shortcomings.

But thank God for Jerome Powell of the Federal Reserve - someone regularly maligned by Trump for refusing to be the organ grinder's monkey.


Powell has emerged as a beacon of stability and hope in these troubling times by taking steps to support money markets around the world.

As lockdowns loomed around the world, investors withdrew funds from the markets putting the financial system under strain.

Powell has been swift in reacting to the impending disaster by using emergency powers to improve dollar liquidity, through temporary liquidity swap lines with a number of central banks around the world. These are agreements between central banks to exchange currencies. The arrangement allows a central bank to obtain foreign currency liquidity from the central bank that issues the currency in order to make it available to local commercial banks.


The Fed has established new swap lines worth $60 billion each for central banks in Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, and Sweden, and $30 billion each for Denmark, Norway, and New Zealand. These new agreements are in addition to existing swap lines with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank.

The concept of swap lines was first put into operation during the financial crisis of 2007-2009. The Fed understands that this time around it has to act to prevent a meltdown of the financial system that could lead to an even greater economic crisis.


At the rate decision on Wednesday, the central bank kept rates unchanged. They made it clear things will not be changing from their dovish stance anytime soon. Interest rates are going to remain at record lows for the foreseeable future. Powell made it clear also of his willingness to act further.

This is a lesson in leadership and crisis management that should benefit Donald Trump.

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