Hours after accepting President Trump’s offer to become the new director of the President’s National Economic Council, CNBC personality Larry Kudlow returned to his old stomping ground Wednesday afternoon to answer a series of softball questions lazily lobbed by his (soon-to-be-former) colleagues.
About mid-way through the interview, Kudlow was asked about Trump’s views on the dollar. Followers of currency markets will remember the burst of volatility that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin accidentally unleashed when he appeared to disavow the US’s longstanding commitment to its “strong dollar” policy.
First official lie as head of NEC
*KUDLOW: NO REASON TO BELIEVE TRUMP DOESN’T WANT STRONG DOLLAR
— shinebox (@ljzaz) March 14, 2018
His response? “I have no reason to believe the president doesn’t support a strong, stable dollar.”
Trump picks camera-proven Kudlow as top economic aide https://t.co/EBpWmhmLuY
— darryldeanwilliams (@darryldean57) March 14, 2018
The dollar clawed back losses in the afternoon after subdued inflation data, comments from Mario Draghi and the continuing fallout from the abrupt firing of Rex Tillerson forced it lower earlier in the session. It’s unclear how much of an impact Kudlow’s comments had on the dollar. CNBC noted that, typically, commenting on the dollar is typically delegated to the Treasury Secretary.
“I’m not saying the dollar has to go up 30 percent, I’m just saying let the rest of the world know that we are going to keep the world’s international reserve currency steady,” Kudlow added. “That creates confidence at home.”
He later drove his point home by saying he would buy the dollar and sell gold.
New WH economic chief Larry “King Dollar” Kudlow: “I would buy the dollar and sell gold.” #NYP
— Michael Gray (@12mgray) March 14, 2018
So far that’s not been a great trade, Larry…
Throughout the interview, Kudlow adhered to the Trump policy playbook.
When asked about David Stockman’s assertion that President Trump is setting Kudlow up to fail because of the president’s die-hard protectionism, Kudlow defended Trump’s plan to impose targeted tariffs on Chinese imports.
“I think China has earned a tough response, not only from the US. The US could lead a coalition of large trading partners and allies against China. You could call it a sort of ‘trade coalition of the willing’.”
“My problem with the steel and aluminum tariffs as they were originally announced might do harm to importers of steel and aluminum.”
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Moving on to taxes, Kudlow commented on a report about “phase two” of the Trump administration’s tax reform.
If Kudlow had his druthers, he would get rid of filibusters and the reconciliation process, subjecting every piece of legislation to an up-or-down vote.
“This is the 21st century it’s the information age and they’re behaving like it’s the 1830s. I would just do a vote, up-or-down, first one to fifty wins – or first one to fifty plus Pence wins.”
Later in the interview, Kudlow reiterated that his top priority at the NEC would be maintaining a stable currency and stable prices.
He added that Nafta needs to be “reupholstered in many different ways.”
Returning to the topic of trade, Kudlow said he’s afraid there would be negative consequences for the US economy because it’s so intertwined with the economies of Canada and Mexico.
At one point, Kudlow recounted the story of getting “the call” from Trump. Kudlow was reportedly eating dinner at Cipriani in midtown Manhattan Tuesday night when Trump called to offer him the job. He abruptly left the restaurant and finished the call in the backseat of a taxi cab. Trump had previously called him that Sunday to discuss the job while Kudlow was playing tennis in Connecticut.
“Just to talk to him for 30-40 minutes at a clip for three or four days a week – it’s a wonderful thing,” Kudlow said.
“He asks good questions…if I try and give him the Kudlow thing…he’s going to come back and ask questions.”
Kudlow went on to defend Trump’s tax reform proposal, likening it to a business doing capex spending. He explained that he doesn’t have a problem for businesses borrowing money to invest in infrastructure – which he said the US is doing with its tax and infrastructure plans.
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For those who are unfamiliar with Larry Kudlow, CNBC published a video outlining his views, and his career history…