Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell earlier this year held a video chat about the global economy with someone he thought was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Except it wasn’t Zelensky. Powell appears to have been pranked.
In clips posted online of the January conversation, Powell discussed global politics and the economy. He said he supported the Ukrainian people but was limited in ways he could help. And Powell said a recession was likely coming in the not-too-distant future and divulged the Fed’s plans to raise rates in 2023.
Powell has said all of that publicly as well.
A Federal Reserve spokesperson acknowledged Powell participated in a conversation in January with someone who misrepresented himself as the Ukrainian president. But the spokesperson notes the clip had been edited and could not confirm its authenticity.
“It was a friendly conversation and took place in a context of our standing in support of the Ukrainian people in this challenging time,” the spokesperson said. “No sensitive or confidential information was discussed.”
The Fed said it referred the matter to law enforcement.
In the clips, Powell said he supported the Ukrainian cause.
“We all see what’s happening, people like me just want to support you in any way we can but I have limited ways to do that in my professional job,” he said.
The New York Times reported the pranksters were Russian supporters of President Vladimir Putin who have previously pranked International Monetary Fund President Christine Lagarde and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.