Fed's Lockhart: Uneven data hampers QE clarity

WASHINGTON (Aug 13)   The uneven performance of the economy has made it impossible for the Federal Reserve to provide clarity about what it is going to do with its $85 billion-a-month asset purchase program, said Dennis Lockhart, the president of the Atlanta Fed Bank, on Tuesday. Lockhart said that he doesn't think there will be enough data at the Fed's next meeting in mid-September for the central bank to commit to a "full phase-out of asset purchases" or lay out a precise timetable for winding them down. "As I see it, a decision to proceed - whether it is in September, October, or December - ought to be thought of as a cautious first step," he said. Lockhart is not a voting member of the Fed's policy-making committee this year. He is considered one of the more pragmatic senior Fed officials and his views are often close to the consensus.

 I don’t think a decision that commits the Fed to a full phase-out of asset purchases and lays out a precise, beginning-to-end path for doing so would be advisable” in September, he said.    But he didn’t rule out that the Fed would start slowing down the pace of asset purchases at the Sept. 17-18 meeting.