Former General Electric chief Jack Welch told CNBC on Wednesday the Federal Reserve would be “crazy” to increase interest rates in the near future.
“It would be insane,” he said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “Your exports would fall off the table even more. The dollar would strengthen. It does nothing at all for the U.S. economy,” he continued. “We’ve [also] got oil problems in the U.S.”
Welch’s comments echo last week’s plea from Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman to the Fed “not to raise interest rates sooner than they have to,” because the economy is not ready yet.
After their meeting last week, central bank policymakers signaled that they haven’t ruled out a rate hike this year, though they did pledge continued patience in their deliberations. Many economists have been expecting the Fed to start increasing rates from their near-zero levels in the second half of the year.
Welch said the Fed should not be taking away accommodation when many of the world’s central banks are easing—including the European Central Bank, which announced last month a $1.2 trillion bond purchase plan. The ECB move has added to further weakness in the euro against the dollar, which has soared more than 15 percent against the single currency in six months.
“If you look at this global market, this is a bitch of a problem with this dollar currency ratio,” Welch said. “I think the Fed would be crazy to raise rates at this point with the dollar where it is.”
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