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Trump calls on the Fed to slash rates and increase stimulus

CNBC logo CNBC 4/30/2019 Jeff Cox

President Donald Trump, in his most brazen attack yet on the Federal Reserve, called Tuesday for the central bank to cut interest rates by 1 percentage point to implement more money-printing quantitative easing.

In a two-part tweet, the president compared the Fed to its China counterpart and said if monetary policy in the U.S. was looser, the economy would "go up like a rocket."

In the past, White House officials including Trump and top economic adviser Larry Kudlow have recommended the Fed cut rates by half a percentage point. The Tuesday tweets literally doubled down on that approach.

The Fed currently targets its benchmark interest rate in a range between 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent. It has hiked the rate nine times since December 2015, though it indicated in March that it likely is done with increases for the rest of 2019 despite forecasting two more at the end of last year.

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Following the president's prescription would take the fed funds rate back to its December 2017 level.

The urging for rate cuts comes despite another strong economic performance in the first quarter. GDP rose at a robust 3.2 percent after many economists had been predicting little or no growth for much of the lead-up to the release.

Growth has come with little inflation. The Fed's preferred gauge showed a gain of just 1.6 percent over the past year excluding food and energy prices.

That lack of inflation is the reason Kudlow and others believe the Fed can cut rates without risk. Central banks normally tighten policy in an effort to control prices when the economy is expanding.

While it is not unusual for president's to criticize monetary policy, it historically has been done quietly, making Trump's public condemnations of Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues atypical.

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