December 24, 2018


Treasury secretary startles Wall Street with unusual pre-Christmas calls to top bank CEOs (Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey, December 23, 2018, Washington Post)

Trump is ensnared in one of the most challenging periods of his presidency, and the stock market's fall has stolen one of his favorite talking points. A partial government shutdown began Saturday morning. Several of his Cabinet officials have departed. At least two people withdrew from consideration to become his next chief of staff, and Democrats have balked at giving him money to build a wall on the Mexico border.

Mnuchin had enjoyed a relatively close relationship with Trump until recent months. Trump has blamed Mnuchin for recommending Powell to the Fed job, and Trump has also fumed at Mnuchin over the stock market's poor performance this year.

Two Trump advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the calls would stoke unnecessary alarm. "No one thought we were at crisis level," one of these people said. "It's going to create more of an issue than we had already."

Mnuchin and the president had a call on Saturday to talk about how to reassure the markets. Aides said that Trump knew the Powell story hurt the markets but did not want to defend the Fed chief. So he told Mnuchin to put out a statement.

"Trump is [mad] at him because Powell was his pick. And he thinks Mnuchin is doing a bad job on the economy," said one of the advisers, who suggested Mnuchin's fate could be perilous.

Posted by at December 24, 2018 5:40 PM