WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would be inclined to replace Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen if he is elected U.S. president in the November election despite supporting the central bank’s low interest rates, he told Fortune magazine.
In an interview published late Tuesday, the billionaire real estate mogul also said he “absolutely” backed efforts to diminish the Fed’s power and allow congressional audits, and backed away from his pledge to erase the more than $19 trillion in U.S. debt in eight years.
“I think she’s done a serviceable job,” Trump said of Yellen. “I don’t want to comment on reappointment, but I would be more inclined to put other people in.”
Fed officials were not immediately available for comment.
Yellen, the most powerful figure in world finance, took office in February 2014 for a four-year term under President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
Still, Trump backed the Fed’s focus on holding U.S. interest rates down, saying that raising them now would be a blow to the U.S. economy. Trump had accused the Fed in November of keeping interest rates low to help Obama, an assertion the White House has flatly rejected.
“The best thing we have going for us is that interest rates are so low,” he told Fortune.
“If rates are 3 percent or 4 percent or whatever, you start adding that kind of number to an already reasonably crippled economy in terms of what we produce, that number is a very scary number,” he added.
Trump told the magazine he would take advantage of lower rates to refinance the country’s debt and boost government spending on infrastructure and the military. Fortune will publish a full transcript of the interview later this week.
On the nation’s debt, Trump moved away from comments he made to the Washington Post earlier this month in which said he would eliminate it “over a period of eight years.”
Instead, he told Fortune he could tackle a portion of it.
“You could pay off a percentage of it, depending on how aggressive you want to be,” he said. “I’d rather not be all that aggressive. I’d rather not have debt, but we’re stuck with it.”
Trump rival Ted Cruz, a U.S. Senator from Texas, has said he would audit the Federal Reserve and move to a rules-based monetary policy.
Other U.S. presidential candidates, including Democrat Bernie Sanders, have also vowed changes to the Fed.
Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe
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