MADISON, Wis., Jan. 10 A top U.S. Federal
Reserve official on Thursday predicted strong U.S. economic
growth of 3.2 percent for this year and for 2014, crediting in
part the central bank's recent policy easing for the better
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a voting member this
year on U.S. monetary policy, said he also expects unemployment
to drop over the next two years, while inflation should remain
near the Fed's 2 percent target rate.
According to remarks prepared for delivery to the Wisconsin
Bankers Association, Bullard cited an easing of policies over
the last six months, as well as reduced economic headwinds and
uncertainty, for a pick up in real gross domestic product.
The Fed is now buying $85 billion in bonds per month under a
quantitative easing program that it can adjust at any time. The
purchases are meant to kick-start growth and ratchet down
unemployment, which stood at 7.8 percent last month.
Bullard, a centrist who nonetheless is toward the hawkish
end of the spectrum of policymakers, said that in the months
ahead the Fed will make judgments on asset purchases based on
economic data. It could "taper" the program, he added.