This morning, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart appeared to be downplaying the dismal nonfarm payrolls report that helped send the Dow to a triple-digit loss last Friday. Lockhart noted that the 4,000-job loss the economy suffered in August should be viewed through the rosy lens of recently positive reports in retail sales.
Last Thursday, Lockhart noted that the Fed hadn't seen any evidence that turmoil in the housing market was affecting the broader economy. In light of Countrywide Financial's late-Friday announcement that it would cut 20% of its workforce over the next 3 months bringing the housing-related layoff toll ever higher Lockhart did not repeat this sentiment today.
Lockhart did reiterate his prior stance that core-inflation declines posted recently represent progress, but not victory, in the Fed's ongoing battle with inflation. He also echoed Fed chief Ben Bernanke's somewhat useless comment that the Fed would consider all timely information in its September 18 meeting. Lockhart himself is not a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee. Interest rate futures held firm after Lockhart's comments, though the broad-market gains posted this morning have now been erased across the board.