Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump replies to a question from the press while boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 14, 2017, as he travels to Florida.
President Donald Trump praised Fed Chair Janet Yellen during a brief gathering with reporters Thursday aboard Air Force One, another nuance to consider as Fed watchers place bets on who will lead the central bank once her tenure expires next year.
It’s been a back and forth for months, with Trump hinting at times Yellen would be reappointed and suggesting at others that he was looking for her successor. On Thursday, the president told reporters he “respects” Yellen and added that “the stock market is doing very well.”
“I like her and I respect her, but I haven’t made that decision yet.”
The Fed chair leads the official committee that decides the direction of interest rates, something that is important to the bond market but often causes movement in the stock market as well. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high on Thursday.
As a candidate for president, Trump criticized Yellen, saying the Fed’s low-rate policies during her tenure created a “false stock market.” Since his inauguration however, Trump has pointed to successive records set by the Dow Jones average and seemed to take credit.
Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic advisor and a former Goldman Sachs executive, has also been a leading contender for the top Fed job though some speculate that his chances have been diminished after he criticized the president’s remarks about violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.
On Tuesday at the Delivering Alpha conference in New York, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said “a lot of great people” are being considered for the role.
Asked whether Yellen remains under consideration, Mnuchin said, “I’m working closely with the president on the issue. He hasn’t made any decisions and that’s one of the things he is still considering.”