Two regional Fed presidents differed on CNBC on Friday about whether September would be the right time to begin to scale back the central bank’s massive bond purchases.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a voting member of the Fed’s policy panel, said he didn’t think there’s any rush to taper. “I think we can afford to be very deliberate in our decision-making here.”
Earlier, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said he’d support a move to start tapering next month if the economic numbers between now and then confirm his perception that the economy is on a “moderate growth path.”
Lockhart and Bullard were interviewed on “Squawk Box” from the Federal Reserve’s economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Lockhard said a “strong pickup in the second half and into 2014” is in his official economic forecast, but the data coming in so far weren’t confirming that scenario. He said he sees full-year GDP growth of 2 percent to 2.5 percent.
“I would be supportive [of tapering] in September as long as the data comes in between now and then basically confirm the path we’re on,” Lockhart said.
Bullard described GDP growth as kind of weak and inflation as low.
The unemployment rate could get down to 7.2 percent by year-end, Lockhart added. The jobless rate was 7.4 percent last month.
Bullard said the labor market is better than it was a year ago—pointing out there’s one more unemployment report coming out before the Fed’s September meeting.
The financial markets have been dissecting everything Fed for indications on whether policymakers will start to taper the central bank’s $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program as soon as next month.