Higher interest rates would make stocks a less attractive investment.
But interest rates also are being pushed up by increased borrowing by the federal government, which is facing higher budget deficits because of the loss of revenue this year from the tax cuts.
The Treasury Department said last week that it expected to borrow $955 billion in the 2018 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. That's up sharply from $519 billion the previous year, and it would be the most federal borrowing since 2012, when the economy was still in the early stages of recovery from the Great Recession.
The Treasury Department estimated it would need to borrow $1.08 trillion in fiscal 2019 and $1.12 trillion the following year. Increased borrowing pushes up interest rates.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) pressed Mnuchin on what she called "this recent market rout."
"The administration has claimed credit for the markets going up. Are they going to claim credit when the markets go down?" she asked.
"I think we'll still claim credit that it's up over 30 percent since the election," Mnuchin said.
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