WASHINGTON — Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart Monday night declared his comfort with the Fed maintaining its current aggressive pace of bond buying to boost economic growth at least into the latter half of 2013, arguing that the large-scale asset purchases remain appropriate for now given conditions in the jobs market.

In prepared remarks at the University of Tennessee, Lockhart painted the picture of an economy in which the risks are balanced, with the potential for acceleration should "potholes" such as self-made political crises be avoided, but with a projected growth rate that will only result in a gradual decline in unemployment.

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