Business News Buc Rotary Lockhart

Published on September 23rd, 2015 |

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Local Fed Reserve chief to Rotarians: “I’m bullish on Atlanta’s economy.”

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President and CEO Dennis Lockhart told Buckhead Rotary Club members and guests at a luncheon Sept. 21 that Atlanta’s economy lags slightly behind the national economy, but said, “I’m bullish on Atlanta’s economic prospects.”

Federal Reserve Atlanta President & CEO Dennis Lockhart

Federal Reserve Atlanta CEO Dennis Lockhart

“Employment is growing. Trends in sectors important to the region are positive—for example, transportation and logistics, tourism and lodging, residential construction, commercial real estate, and business services,” he said according to an Atlanta Business Chronicle report.

“The business services sector is a mainstay of the Buckhead community,” Lockhart stated.

Lockhard explained that Atlanta’s economy might be better today after the Great Recession than it was before.

“I consider Atlanta’s economy to be better balanced, with a more diversified employment base, than before the recession,” Lockhart said. “I’m bullish on Atlanta’s economic prospects. Atlanta should grow along with the national economy,” he added.

Lockhart told the Buckhead Rotary attendees supports the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision last week to hold off raising rates.

During a question and answer session, Lockhart said a rise of a quarter of a point would not have a significant effect on the economy, according to a report by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“I certainly do not believe it would snuff out the momentum we see in the economy. The expansion is pretty broad-based and solidly grounded,” Lockhart reportedly said.

“It’s not that that first move would necessarily be a spoiler of what’s going on in the economy. I don’t believe the economy is that fragile,” he explained. “It would however be the beginning of what many would consider to be a tightening cycle, that would be followed by other moves in the rate, in all probability, depending on how the economy performed after the first move, and that would mean a period of gradually rising interest rates.”

Asked if the steps taken had less of an effect than would have been predicted, Lockhart conceded the Fed’s moves had a limited impact.

“We have had an interest rate policy at what economists call the zero lower boundary, effectively as low as they could go, although I would say some countries in Europe are proving us wrong by going to negative interest rates,” Lockhart said.

“We have had our policy at effectively zero for more than six years, going on seven years now,” he added. “We have not been able to get the inflation rate up to a healthy level of 2 percent per annum.”

He still believes a rate increase could come this year.

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