Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin isn’t buying the argument that the Federal Reserve triggered Wednesday’s steep fall in US stocks.
“I don’t think there was any new news that came out of the Fed today that wasn’t there beforehand,” Mnuchin said Thursday morning in an interview in Bali, Indonesia. He was speaking hours after the Dow and other major US indexes plunged more than 3%.
“Markets go up. Markets go down,” Mnuchin said on the sidelines of a meeting of global finance chiefs and central bankers hosted by the International Monetary Fund. “I see this as a normal correction.”
The fundamentals of the US economy are very strong, he added.
After US stocks suffered their worst sell-off in eight months on Wednesday, President Donald Trump blasted the Fed as “crazy” for continuing to raise interest rates this year.
“The Fed is making a mistake,” Trump told reporters as he arrived for a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. “They’re so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy.”
Trump also described Wednesday’s market drop as “a correction.”
Michelle Smith, a Federal Reserve spokeswoman, declined to comment on Trump’s remarks.
Under Chairman Jerome Powell, the Fed has been raising rates to try to prevent the US economy from overheating as it benefits from one of the longest expansions on record.
US stocks, which recently hit new all-time highs, are now in the midst of an October slump, sliding sharply because investors are worried about rising interest rates. A spike in yields on US 10-Year Treasury bonds, which are hovering at a more-than-seven-year high, has investors wondering if the near-decade-old bull market in stocks may finally be ending.
Analysts have suggested that stocks are also hurting from fears over the slowdown in China’s economy and its escalating trade war with the United States.
Mnuchin declined to speculate on why investors might be becoming more anxious about the clash with Beijing.
“Nothing has changed on the trade side in the last 48 hours,” he said.
Wednesday’s sell-off follows a report this week by the International Monetary Fund that said global growth was plateauing. The fund downgraded its forecast for next year, citing rising interest rates and escalating trade tensions.
Trump hasn’t been shy about expressing his unhappiness with the Fed’s interest-rate policies. On the campaign trail, he proclaimed himself a “low interest guy.”
Traditionally, presidents have avoided publicly commenting on Fed policy.
“I think it’s good,” Trump said of the more than 3% fall in US stocks Wednesday. “Actually, it’s a correction that we’ve been waiting for a long time. But I really disagree with what the Fed is doing.”