Asking the Right Question

I’m a Council on Foreign Relations member and I went yesterday to hear Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome (“Jay”) Powell speak. A New York Times reporter was interviewing him. Fellow members (one of whom works for Bob Rubin) and I speculated before the session about what Powell would say about Donald Trump. The president had made harsh comment within the last 24 hours.

We were 40 minutes into the hour program, the NY Times reporter had finished his questions and opened it up to the floor -- but no one had yet mentioned the president. It was all interest rate cuts, possible Fed actions, even the deficit. (Maybe a h/t to past Council Chairman Pete Peterson, the room we were sitting in is named for him and the deficit was his ultimate villain.)

So I raised my hand. And when called on, I asked about the elephant in the room: “We have a president who seems remarkably comfortable talking about the Fed in public. What do you think about this?”

I aimed to open the door for Powell with the most neutral question possible. So that he could walk through and go in virtually any direction he wanted. There was laughter across the audience when I finished my question.

Powell responded with a strong defense of the Fed’s independence. It made the lead of the New York Times reporting on the session.

My query is described lower down in the piece. Though you get the distinct impression the NY Times moderator asked the question.

Allison Silver