Daily Archives: Sep 25, 2018

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) on Monday criticized President Trump, who said in an interview that he opposes granting the territory statehood while pointing to an “incompetent” mayor in San Juan.

“The President said he is not in favor of statehood for the people of Puerto Rico based on a personal feud with a local mayor. This is an insensitive, disrespectful comment to over 3 million Americans who live in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico,” said Rosselló in a statement.

In a pre-recorded interview with Geraldo Rivera aired on Cleveland’s WTAM radio earlier Monday, Trump said he’d remain against statehood for the territory while San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz remained in office.

“With the mayor of San Juan as bad as she is and as incompetent as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn’t be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they’re doing,” said Trump.

Cruz and Trump have feuded over the federal response to Hurricane Maria since shortly after the deadly storm struck in September of 2017.

Cruz, whose Popular Democratic Party opposes statehood, responded to Trump’s latest comments over Twitter.

“Trump once again accuses me of telling the truth. Now he says statehood won’t arrive because of me,” she tweeted.

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-P.R.), a staunch supporter of statehood, also weighed in on Twitter.

“Equality 4 Puerto Ricans shouldn’t be held up by one bad mayor who’s leaving office in 2020 & do not represent the people who voted twice for statehood. In 2012 61%, and 97% in 2017. Equality & statehood are much bigger than any lousy & temporary politician. Equality transcends,” said González.

Trump’s comments on Rivera’s show escalated a budding public disagreement between the president and Rosselló, who has at times taken internal criticism rather than publicly rebuke Trump.

“How can the United States make the case for democracy at the United Nations this week, when they have under their flag the most populous colony in the world? I urge all political leaders in the nation to define their views towards our quest for equal treatment for the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico,” said Rosselló in his statement, in reference to the ongoing United Nations General Assembly, which Trump will address in New York on Tuesday.

Trump and Rosselló last week disagreed publicly over the official death count of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which a George Washington University study estimated at 2,975.

In a letter to Trump commemorating the anniversary of Maria, Rosselló asked the president to consider moving forward the cause of statehood for the island.

In his letter, Rosselló appealed to Trump’s leadership, saying “statehood for Puerto Rico is not only about realizing Puerto Rico’s full potential. It is about America living up to its most noble values by creating a more perfect Union.”

Although Puerto Rican statehood is part of the Republican Party platform, and Trump campaigned as a supporter of the idea, it has met cool reception in Washington for decades.

“While a Presidential candidate, Trump said that the will of the Puerto Rican people in any status referendum should be considered as Congress follows through on any desired change in status for Puerto Rico, including statehood,” read Rosselló’s Monday statement.

In June, Trump joked to Rosselló that he would consider statehood if Puerto Rico could guarantee it would elect two Republican senators.

Still, Trump’s position — as stated to Rivera — has moved away from statehood.

“With people like that involved in Puerto Rico, I would be an absolute no,” said Trump.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday and left intact its plans to steadily tighten monetary policy, as it forecast that the U.S. economy would enjoy at least three more years of growth.

In a statement that marked the end of the era of “accommodative” monetary policy, Fed policymakers lifted the benchmark overnight lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a range of 2.00 percent to 2.25 percent.

The U.S. central bank still foresees another rate hike in December, three more next year, and one increase in 2020.

That would put the benchmark overnight lending rate at 3.4 percent, roughly half a percentage point above the Fed’s estimated “neutral” rate of interest, at which rates neither stimulate nor restrict the economy.

That tight policy stance is projected to stay level through 2021, the timeframe of the Fed’s latest economic projections.

“The thing that folks were watching for, which they went ahead and did, was remove the word ‘accommodative’ in regard to their monetary policy,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors.

“It does seem to potentially indicate they believe monetary policy is becoming less accommodative and getting more towards that neutral rate.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the removal of the wording, which had been a staple of the central bank’s guidance for financial markets and households for much of the past decade, did not signal a policy outlook change.

“Instead, it is a sign that policy is proceeding in line with our expectations,” Powell, who took over as head of the Fed earlier this year, said in a press conference after the release of the statement.

The U.S. Treasury yield curve flattened and the U.S. dollar .DXY briefly weakened against a basket of currencies. U.S. stocks initially extended gains but fell later in the trading session, with bank and financial stocks getting hit hard.

The Fed sees the economy growing at a faster-than-expected 3.1 percent this year and continuing to expand moderately for at least three more years, amid sustained low unemployment and stable inflation near its 2 percent target.

“The labor market has continued to strengthen … economic activity has been rising at a strong rate,” it said in its statement.

The Fed inserted no substitute language for the dropped ‘accommodative’ wording in its statement. That wording had become less and less accurate since the central bank began increasing rates in late 2015 from a near-zero level, and its removal means the Fed now considers rates near neutral.

NEW PROJECTIONS

Wednesday’s rate increase once again drew criticism from President Donald Trump, who has complained that the Fed’s actions are countering his efforts to boost the economy.

“We’re doing great as a country. Unfortunately they just raised interest rates because we are doing so well. I’m not happy about that,” Trump told a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“I’d rather pay down debt or do other things, create more jobs. So I’m worried about the fact that they seem to like raising interest rates.”

Powell, at his press conference, declined to say whether Fed policymakers had discussed Trump’s previous criticism of the central bank. Last month, Trump expressed his displeasure about rising rates and said the Fed should do more to boost the economy.

Powell, who was appointed by Trump and took over as Fed chairman earlier this year, said the central bank would remain independent.

“We don’t consider political factors or things like that,” the Fed chief said.

Wednesday’s rate hike was the third this year and the seventh in the last eight quarters. Ahead of Wednesday’s statement, traders put the chance of a rate increase at 95 percent, according to CME Group.

The Fed’s latest projections show the economy continuing at a steady pace through 2019, with gross domestic product growth seen at 2.5 percent next year before slowing to 2.0 percent in 2020 and to 1.8 percent in 2021, as the impact of recent tax cuts and government spending fade.

Inflation was forecast to hover near 2 percent over the next three years, while the unemployment rate is expected to fall to 3.5 percent next year and remain there through 2020 before rising slightly in 2021.

The jobless rate is currently 3.9 percent.

With risks described as roughly balanced, the statement left the Fed on a steady course for the next year.

Risks to the current run of economic growth, such as the threat of a damaging round of global tariff increases, were largely set aside.

There were no dissents in the Fed’s policy statement

 

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