Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta CEO and Chairman Dennis Lockhart said another round of quantitative easing, or Fed asset purchases, is not needed right now, but not entirely off the table.
Lockhart spoke to the Institute of Regulation & Risk in Tokyo Monday, telling the audience his economic outlook shows modest growth over the next few years. And while there is no need for QE3 right now, it is too soon to say the Fed will never acquire large assets again as a tool for economic stimulus.
"Circumstances today in the United States call for continued measured efforts to quicken the pace of recovery and shrink unemployment, while keeping inflation controlled and close to the FOMC's official target of 2 percent," Lockhart said. "Those efforts for the time being should fall in the realm of communications. Current economic data continue to be a mix of positives and negatives. Consumer activity is continuing to grow, and manufacturing is expanding. At the same time, we've seen a recent slowdown in business investment, and the pace of job creation has weakened."
Though Lockhart did not specify when QE3 could become a possibility again, he believes the correct Fed strategy is to provide the public with open communications so citizens will understand where the central bank is going from here.
Lockhart concluded his speech saying, "The challenge policymakers face is judging appropriateness of a toll for circumstances. As popular as it might be in some quarters to rule out further LSAPs (QE3, as it is known), I do not think this option can be taken off the table. QE3 will work under the right circumstances. But I don't believe such circumstances prevail at this time."