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Sorry, Donald Trump, but the Fed isn’t talking politics

Janet Yellen

For all the charges about how politicized the Federal Reserve has supposedly become, the November election apparently was not a discussion topic during the central bank’s September meeting.

Fed watchers have been speculating that it doesn’t want to hike rates ahead of the presidential election. Republican nominee Donald Trumphas alleged that the Fed is holding off because it doesn’t want to disrupt the economy and ruin Hillary Clinton’s chances of getting elected.

Trump told CNBC in September that Fed Chair Janet Yellen should be “ashamed” by her actions as head of the U.S. central bank, without providing evidence of his allegations.

But a summary of the September FOMC gathering produced no references to the race. Of course, the meeting minutes document does not constitute a transcript, but an otherwise detailed document did not even make passing reference to the campaign.

Questioned at the post-meeting news conference about whether the Fed was holding off because of the election, Yellen asserted that no political discussions have taken place. Moreover, she said that when the transcript is released in five years, it will not reflect any talk of the election.

The Eccles Building, location of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and of the Federal Open Market Committee

Fed minutes: Hawks fear recession in rate hike delay  12 Hours Ago | 04:01

“I can emphatically say that partisan politics plays no role in our decisions,” Yellen told reporters.

Even a benign interpretation has been that the Fed won’t hike in November because it doesn’t want to disrupt the election in either direction. The Federal Open Market Committee meeting concludes Nov. 2, with the election just six days later. Traders give just an 11.4 percent chance of a move at the meeting.

The only reference to anything political at the September meeting was talk of the June Brexit, in which Britons voted to leave the European Union. Despite dire predictions, the vote “apparently exerted less drag on economic activity than previously anticipated by many analysts,” the minutes noted.

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