Stephen Moore, a Federal Reserve Board nominee, gave an interesting interview to the New York Times on Tuesday. The headline quote: “I don’t think anybody can reasonably say I am a sycophant for Trump, because I’m not.”
Moore has spent the past three years serving as surrogate, spin doctor and sycophant for President Trump, on TV and in the press. Moore suggested in the Times interview that he praises and promotes Trump merely because they “think a lot alike on a lot of things” and “share a lot of the same economic philosophy.” That might be true for their mutual love of tax cuts. But in service to Trump, Moore has also regularly abandoned many of the other issues in his “economic philosophy” he’d reliably advocated pre-Trump. Once a warrior for free trade, Moore now regularly defends Trump’s tariffs. Until recently a champion of undocumented immigrants, he now rails against them.
Moore has also, of course, reversed himself on lots of other policy recommendations and economic views in the age of Trump. Previously an inflation truther who warned that official government statistics were hiding the dangerous hyperinflation just around the corner, he is suddenly a deflation truther. Despite the major price indices showing that prices are rising, Moore says prices are actually falling and therefore the Fed must implement immediate monetary stimulus.
But never mind all that. Consider the personal flattery Moore has showered upon Trump since the latter became the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
Moore co-authored an entire book that was a love letter to the president, called “Trumponomics.” As my colleague Carlos Lozada notes in his review:
“The message required the right messenger,” they write. And the economists gush over that messenger, as all Trump acolytes must. The president is “very charismatic,” “clever,” “gutsy” and “the greatest marketer of modern times,” they rhapsodize. “What a showman! What a gifted orator.”
Or there was that time when, at a Young America’s Foundation event, Moore swooned over Trump’s rockin’ bod. Trump, Moore said, “looks like a football player, in incredible, great shape.”
There was also that time, last year, when Moore said Trump should win the highest prize in economics:
The other day I was on a panel with media reporters and I suggested in all seriousness that Donald Trump deserves the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics.
This prize, for those unfamiliar, is usually awarded for a seminal theoretical or methodological breakthrough evidenced from research conducted decades earlier. To my knowledge it has never been granted for getting elected president when the economy happens to be expanding.
Or there were those times Moore called Mitt Romney “duplicitous” and “disgraceful” for not supporting Trump in 2016. Or...
This kind of stuff might seem silly. But it matters. As I’ve written ad nauseam, the Fed (like any central bank) needs to be politically independent in order to credibly commit to stable prices, which is half of its dual mandate. Moore by contrast has openly called for politicizing the Fed, calling its officials “swamp” creatures who should be “fired" because they have not done all they can to boost Trump’s reelection chances.
The world’s most important central bank is not a political agent of the president; the same cannot be said of its latest nominee.