Donald Trump held a phone conversation about turbulent markets and the economy with the chief executives of three of the largest US banks on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The conversation, the person said, followed a previously scheduled meeting at which the bankers — Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America and Mike Corbat of Citigroup — discussed financial regulation with members of the Trump administration. At the end of the meeting, however, the presence of all three men presented an opportunity for a presidential briefing.
Who initiated the call, exactly what was discussed, and who besides the president and the three bankers was on the call could not be ascertained.
The discussion came in the middle of a volatile week for financial markets, as investors struggled to absorb tactical switches in the trade war between Mr Trump’s administration and China, and the potential effects on the US and the global economy.
Wednesday was particularly turbulent. The S&P 500 fell almost 3 per cent on the day, responding to weak economic data from China and Germany and two-year Treasuries trading at a higher yield than 10-year Treasuries, the first such inversion of the yield curve in over a decade.
Bank shares were hit particularly hard on the day. JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup all fell between 4 and 5 per cent.
Mr Trump has emphasised the strength of the US economy throughout his presidency. As he gears up for re-election, he has repeatedly claimed the US Federal Reserve is holding back growth.
“Our problem is with the Fed. Raised too much & too fast. Now too slow to cut . . . CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE! We should easily be reaping big Rewards & Gains, but the Fed is holding us back. We will Win!” the president tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
A day earlier, he delayed the introduction of more than half his latest proposed tariffs — a 10 per cent levy on $300bn of Chinese consumer goods — until mid-December so that it would not increase prices in US stores during the holiday shopping season. When originally proposed two weeks ago, the tariffs were all to take effect at the beginning of September.
Markets had recovered somewhat by the end of the week. The S&P 500 rose 1.4 per cent Friday but was down 1 per cent for the week as a whole, its third straight weekly decline.
The conversation between the bank bosses and the president was first reported by Bloomberg.