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Monday, October 18, 2010

Fed's Lockhart: QE2 is an "insurance policy" against further disinflation

by Calculated Risk on 10/18/2010 01:03:00 PM

From Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart: The Challenges of Monetary Policy in Today's Economy

To opt for more quantitative easing at this juncture is a big decision. Today I will walk you through the thicket of considerations that lead me, at this moment, to be sympathetic to more monetary stimulus in the near future.
With current inflation running at about 1 percent or a little higher and with official unemployment measured at 9.6 percent, it's clear that the economy is not where we want it to be. In my mind, the question is whether this situation is a call to immediate action.
As a starting point, I expect final measures of third quarter GDP growth to be close to that in the second quarter which came in at 1.6 percent. My current forecast sees a modest increase in the rate of growth in the fourth quarter and further, but still modest, improvement in 2011. In this forecast, inflation remains low but with no further disinflation, and unemployment comes down very gradually.

In my thinking, the range of plausible divergence from this forecast is quite wide, and the risks are more to the downside.
In my view, the decision is not clear cut. We policymakers have to weigh these arguments pro and con, potential costs versus benefits, and competing risks. As I said earlier, I am leaning in favor of additional monetary stimulus while acknowledging the longer-term risks the policy may present. At this juncture, and given the circumstances of sluggish growth and measured inflation that is too low, I give greater weight to the risk of further disinflation leading to deflation. In my mind, QE2 is a form of risk management—an insurance policy that is prudent to put in place at this time.
Lockhart is not currently on the FOMC.

Note: Lockhart see modest improvment in both GDP growth and unemployment, but I think we will see a little more weakness in GDP growth and the unemployment rate will even tick up a little from 9.6%.