Atlanta Federal Reserve chair shares cautious optimism on economy with Sarasota audience

02/20/12 Doug Driscoll
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The chair of the Atlanta Federal Reserve is encouraged by recent improvements in the economy, but his overall stance is one of caution and restraint. Dennis Lockhart shared his views on economic recovery with a crowd of about 150 people at New College in Sarasota earlier this week.

Lockhart said recent improvements in employment, household income, business confidence and the beginning of credit expansion are good indicators. He predicts growth between 2.5 to 3 percent this year. Lockhart views the economy as a “fickle lover”, and encourages patience.

Addressing home owners, Lockhart cautions that values will not rise any time in the new future. He says a return to sound fundamentals for individuals will be predominantly through savings.

While the public sector continues to contract, Lockhart says the private sector must make adjustments to accommodate unemployed government workers. This, along with a depressed housing market, slow gains in employment and growing household spending justifies recent policy statement by central bankers.

However, Lockhart was careful to point out that unexpected shocks, such as natural disasters or the global economy, cannot be foreseen. He says this requires constant attention and a flexible approach

Lockhart spoke at New College’s lecture series New Topics, and the next event will be Dr. Michael Mullen on March 3.

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