U.S. Markets

Trump still wants negative interest rates, but says Fed Chair has improved

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he holds a meeting on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak response with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Colorado Governor Jared Polis in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he still strongly believes the Federal Reserve should have negative interest rates, but gave a modicum of approval to Fed Chair Jerome Powell who said earlier in the day the central bank would not lower rates beyond zero.

Trump said Powell, whom he frequently criticizes, has improved in his performance as the Fed’s head, but he still disagrees with Powell when it comes to the lending rate set by the central bank.

“I feel strongly we should have negative rates,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “The chairman - he’s my MIP over the last few months. He’s done a very good job.”

Trump explained that he meant “Most Improved Player.”

Powell earlier on Wednesday said the Fed is still not looking at setting rates below zero, and instead pushed lawmakers to use spending to boost the economy during the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Steve Holland; Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell