Trump calls for Federal Reserve to 'get smart,' lower key interest rate

The president wants the Fed to make interest rates more 'competitive'

President Trump on Tuesday renewed his calls for the Federal Reserve to lower its benchmark interest rate to make the U.S. more "competitive" with other countries.

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"The Fed should get smart &  lower the Rate to make our interest competitive with other Countries which pay much lower even though we are, by far, the high standard," Trump wrote in a tweet. "We would then focus on paying off & refinancing debt! There is almost no inflation-this is the time (2 years late)!"

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Trump's criticism Tuesday marked the first time in 2020 the president took aim at the central bank. The Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, were frequent targets of Trump last year. Despite lowering the benchmark rate three times last year (after having raised it four times in 2018), Trump wasn't satisfied, frequently saying the cut wasn't enough.

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Powell and other Fed officials credit those rate cuts with revitalizing the housing market, which had stumbled early last year, and offsetting some of the drag from Trump's trade war with China.

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Fed officials will hold their latest policy meeting Wednesday and are expected to keep rates at the current – and historically low – rate of between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent.

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Questions about its policy-making remain, however. They include what the next steps might be for the Fed's ongoing purchases of short-term Treasury bills, which are intended to keep overnight lending markets free-flowing and to hold down short-term borrowing rates. Officials will also likely spend time at their Tuesday-Wednesday meeting discussing their ongoing review of how the Fed should adapt its policies for a persistently low-inflation, low-interest rate environment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.