Former Fed chair: 'No, I do not' think Trump understands the economy


Janet Yellin slammed Trump for not understanding trade or the economy, and said the GOP tax scam wasn't needed.

In a stunning interview on Monday with "Marketplace," former Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen slammed Trump on trade and the economy, and said the GOP tax bill "really wasn't needed."

Host Kai Ryssdal asked Yellen if she thought Trump "has a grasp of macroeconomic policy," and she didn't hold back her response.

"No, I do not," Yellen said.

Yellen went on to expose Trump's "lack of understanding" — about both the role of the Federal Reserve and how global trade actually works.

"Well, I doubt that he would even be able to say that the Fed's goals are maximum employment and price stability ... the goals that Congress have assigned to the Fed," Yellen said.

"He's made comments about the Fed having an exchange rate objective in order to support his trade plans, or possibly targeting the U.S. balance of trade. And, you know, I think comments like that show a lack of understanding of the impact of the Fed on the economy, and appropriate policy goals," she added.

Yellen was even more biting in her critique about trade in particular.

Trump often whines about the trade deficit between the United States and other countries, which is the difference between the amount of goods the U.S. exports to a country and the amount the U.S. imports from that country.

But obsessing over that number is not smart, according to Yellen. "I think almost any economist would tell you that there's no real meaning to bilateral trade deficits, and it's not an appropriate objective of policy," she said.

Still, Trump has made discussion of trade deficits central to his escalating trade wars with China, Mexico, and other countries around the globe. His policies are costing farmers billions of dollars, and even one Republican governor says Trump's uneducated views on trade have "devastated" her state.

One analysis shows that if Trump follows through on all his threats related to tariffs and trade wars, his policies could cost the American economy more than 2 million jobs.

Yellen's wisdom comes from a long career of dealing with economic issues. She was the first woman to ever chair the Federal Reserve, which she did to close out her 17-year career at the institution. Trump did not re-appoint her for a second term, and she is now the president-elect of the American Economic Association.

But Yellen's critiques were not limited to Trump's policies; she also hammered the Republican tax scam as unnecessary, saying, "we also had a huge fiscal stimulus that came at a time when the economy was arguably operating near full employment. Really didn't need that stimulus."

The GOP tax scam, which passed Congress without a single vote from Democrats, was a massive handout to Wall Street banks and massive corporations. The unneeded scam helped add almost $2 trillion to the national deficit, while families are seeing lower refunds or even unexpectedly finding out they owe Uncle Sam hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Trump's ignorance about the economy is causing real harm to American families across the country.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.