CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell should admit he was wrong to increase interest rates so aggressively last year, as the U.S.-China trade dispute was escalating, economic growth was starting to cool and the stock market was tanking.
Powell should acknowledge the mistake and change course, Cramer said.
“Why can’t the Fed chief say, ‘You know what? I was wrong.’ It turns out there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … to be able to make it so the Chinese have to play fair,” said Cramer. “Look, sometimes what you have to do is you say you’re wrong. I have said, for instance, I’m wrong on certain stocks.”
Cramer’s comments come less than two weeks before the Fed’s next meeting. The central bank is expected to cut rates later this month for the second time this year. Another quarter-point reduction in borrowing costs is the prevailing forecast among economists. The Fed in July cut rates for the first time in more than 10 years.
Cramer said Friday he’s not worried about a recession in the U.S. if the Fed cuts rates. He said rates are still too high after the 2018 moves. Recession worries emerged last month as the 10-year Treasury yield inverted, and briefly went lower than the 2-year yield for the first time since before the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession. The inversion, seen as a front-running indicator of a recession, was on-and-off for weeks. Currently, it’s back to normal.
“The Fed chair should be bullied by the bond market. And the bond market is saying, ‘Whoa, are you wrong Jay.’ The big guy says, ‘I’ve been wrong. I got to make changes,'” said Cramer, host of “Mad Monday.”
President Donald Trump, who actually nominated Powell to lead the Fed, has been the chairman’s harshest critic, repeatedly tweeting that Powell should cut rates. On Friday, right before the government’s August jobs report was released, Trump slammed Powell again in a tweet that also mentioned Cramer.
Cramer has urged the president to lay off Powell. “I just don’t want Powell to be intransigent and wrong repeatedly in order to spite the president of the United States.”
Last year, Powell and his fellow monetary policymakers hiked rates four times. Ahead of the final 2018 increase, Powell had indicated a robust path of hikes into 2019. Those comments caused the stock market to tank. The Fed raised rates in December anyway. Then later, the Fed chief pulled back the hike talk in favor patience in what’s become known as the “Powell Pivot.”