Trump leans toward replacing Fed chief if he wins White House

Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:13pm EDT
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump would be inclined to replace Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen if he wins the White House despite supporting the U.S. central bank's efforts to keep interest rates low, he told Fortune magazine.

"I think she's done a serviceable job," Trump said in an interview published late on Tuesday, as the billionaire real estate mogul moved a step closer to becoming his party's nominee with a resounding win in New York state's Republican nominating contest.

"I don't want to comment on reappointment, but I would be more inclined to put other people in."

Yellen was nominated for the top Fed job by Democratic President Barack Obama, and began her four-year term in February 2014. Nominees need Senate approval, after which they are protected from political interference until their terms expire.

In his interview, Trump said he "absolutely" backed efforts to diminish the Fed's power and allow Congress to launch so-called "audits," or outside reviews, of its policy decisions. He also backed away from his pledge to erase the more than $19 trillion in U.S. debt in eight years.

Representatives for the Fed declined to comment on the report.

Were Yellen to step down in 2018 after only one term, it would be the shortest Fed chairmanship since 1979. Since then, Fed chairs from Paul Volcker to Alan Greenspan to Ben Bernanke, Yellen's predecessor, were reappointed by at least one incoming U.S. president.

Trump said he favored the low interest rate environment and that raising rates would be a blow to the U.S. economy. Trump had accused the Fed in November of keeping rates low to help Obama, an assertion the White House rejected.

"The best thing we have going for us is that interest rates are so low," the New York billionaire businessman told Fortune.   Continued...

 
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana April 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein