Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen stands after testifying during a confirmation hearing on her nomination to be the next chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington, Nov. 14, 2013.
Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Former Fed chair: Trump doesn’t understand economic policy

About a month ago, Gary Cohn, the former top economic voice in Donald Trump’s White House, sat down with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, who asked her guest a simple question: Does Donald Trump understand “basic economics.”

Cohn didn’t want to answer – even after the question was asked multiple times.

This week, we heard a more direct answer from someone who recently held one of the nation’s most important economic posts.

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has taken plenty of hits from President Donald Trump. Now she’s delivering a few of her own.

In a radio interview Monday, the ex-central bank chief questioned Trump’s comprehension of monetary policy as well as his understanding of basic economics.

Asked if she thinks the president “has a grasp of economic policy,” Yellen flatly responded, “No, I do not.”

Asked to elaborate, Yellen, who was subjected to bizarre Trump conspiracy theories before he replaced her, added, “I doubt that [Trump] would even be able to say that the Fed’s goals are maximum employment and price stability, which is the goals that Congress have assigned to the Fed.”

As luck would have it, Yellen’s successor, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, was on Capitol Hill today, and was offered a chance to comment on her assessment.

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell was asked if he agreed with comments Yellen made in a radio interview Monday that she did not believe Trump had a good grasp of economic policy.

Powell replied to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, with a terse, “I don’t have any comment on that for you, senator.”

That’s a diplomatic answer, to be sure, though Powell could’ve simply said he’s satisfied with the president’s understanding of economic policy. He didn’t.

For context, it’s worth noting that the amateur president, who’s never demonstrated even the most rudimentary awareness of the basics of economic policy, has lashed out at Powell’s policies on interest rates as “crazy” and “loco.”

Given this, the Fed chair showed considerable restraint this morning.