CHICAGO - Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart Monday told reporters that he is not sure if any additional monetary stimulus is needed, but that he is approaching the June Federal Open Market Committee meeting with an open mind.
"I do not think any options are off the table," he said. Asked about current U.S. Treasury yields, he said low rates are taking the pressure off monetary policymakers.
"The markets are doing a strong job for the Federal Reserve -- of suppressing long-term rates, Lockhart said. “I give credit to the financial markets as much as monetary policy," he said, but added that "it remains to be seen of that's enough."
Asked if he favored sending a message via the FOMC's post-meeting statement, he indicated that was just one tool at policymakers' disposal. He added that a monetary policy report is a more "holistic" stance that would show what the committee is thinking, as opposed to various individual Fed members' views.
In an earlier speech to the Tennessee Bankers Association, Lockhart said the weekend reports that Spain would seek financial assistance were "good news." But he noted that he continued to give "more weight and higher probability to a negative influence on our economy coming from Europe than I did as recently at the last FOMC meeting in late April," reiterating remarks he made last week in a speech in Florida.
He told reporters that he, along with the markets, is awaiting more details on the Spanish bank refinancing program, including how much will be used and the terms and conditions, so is taking a "wait and see attitude." He did the EU fund is favored to support the Spanish banks, a reference to exactly what fund the expected the E100 billion bailout will come from.
Lockhart said he expects U.S. exports "could be in for some deterioration" due to weaker economic conditions in both China and in Europe.
As for U.S. employment, he said he did not think it is reasonable to expect job creation to remain firm across months, and added that it remains unclear whether or not warmer weather "pulled favorable job growth into earlier months" of the year, then flattened out. He also said it is not yet determined if the recent jobs weakness could be attributed to an outright decline or a return of previously discouraged unemployed individuals to the workforce.
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