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David Nicklaus is a business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

FED-BULLARD

James Bullard, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in Tokyo on May 29, 2018. 

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard repeated his call for a interest rate cut on Wednesday, saying the U.S. central bank needs to nudge inflation expectations higher.

Bullard, speaking to an OMFIF Foundation meeting at Washington University, said the Federal Reserve should be concerned that inflation remains stubbornly below its 2 percent target. 

He said he can't prejudge what the Fed will do at a July 31 meeting, but added that he would vote for a quarter-point cut if the meeting were held today.

Last month, Bullard cast a dissenting vote against the Fed's decision to hold rates steady, saying he preferred an immediate cut.

"I think trade uncertainty is going to slow down global growth and that will feed back into the U.S. economy," Bullard said Wednesday. "What we'd like to do is take out some insurance against the possibility of a sharper-than-expected slowdown."

Bullard also said he wasn't concerned that President Donald Trump has been urging the Fed, which is supposed to be independent from politics, to cut rates. "We get tons of input from all kinds of people all the time," he said.

Bullard noted that Trump made his money in real estate and added, "Every real estate person I've ever met always prefers lower interest rates."

Bullard also said that Christopher Waller, the St. Louis Fed research director, would "be his own person" if he's named to the Federal Reserve's board of governors. Trump said last week that he intends to nominate Waller for an opening on the board.

"Certainly our views are very close, but he also has his own opinions on all variety of issues," Bullard said.

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