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Fed’s Lockhart Says He’s Weighing Costs, Benefits of More Easing

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said he’s weighing the costs and benefits of adding additional stimulus to an economy that has “slightly” improved in the past few weeks.

“I’m trying to weigh the benefits in terms of lower interest rates” and “how much more stimulus might achieve in terms of a lower unemployment rate by the end of 2014,” Lockhart said in an interview on Bloomberg Television today from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The risks from more easing include the possibility of disrupting market functioning and complicating the Fed’s exit from its record monetary accommodation, he said.

Speaking two weeks before the Federal Open Market Committee’s next meeting, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke today defended the central bank’s unprecedented actions and made the case for even more stimulus. San Francisco Fed President John Williams called for another asset-purchasing program that’s “at least as large” as the previous round of quantitative easing.

The Fed’s decisions are a “committee process” and any easing may be implemented over an “extended period,” while its effects will be felt in the economy after a delay, Lockhart said in the interview. He would like to see a pace of job creation of at least 150,000 per month “on a persistent basis,” he said.

“We’re on a 2 percent growth trajectory with very slow and frustrating improvement in employment,” Lockhart said. “We’re seeing some firming but I’m not sure that firming is enough to really put us on a different path.”

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