Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Dennis Lockhart Friday said the Fed can afford to exercise “patience” with regard to tightening its loose monetary policy because inflation pressures are apt to be “transitory,” inflation expectations “stable,” the economy “fragile,” and the recovery in employment in need of “support.”

Lockhart said current policy, which has the federal funds rate pegged at zero to 25 basis points for going on two and a half years and a still-growing balance sheet, remains “appropriate.”

In remarks prepared for delivery to the Knoxville, Tenn., Economics Club, Lockhart warned that while it is okay to talk about an eventual exit from that accommodative policy, it must not create “premature expectations of tightening.”

Lockhart highlighted strength in manufacturing but said “particularly disappointing” weakness in housing is weighing on the consumer. He also said the gross domestic product likely grew more slowly in the first quarter.

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