Oregon Public Broadcasting

The nation's economy continues to more forward, despite strong crosscurrents. That's according to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who was in Portland Wednesday.

Oregon and seven other West Coast states make up the Federal Reserve's 12th District. It's the largest district in the nation with 21 percent of the population.

At a speech to local business leaders, President John Williams echoed the words of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke: that the purchase of $85 billion in securities each month is likely to wind down by the middle of next year. Williams said the private sector seems to be running well, but the government is like a bag of rocks on its back.

Williams said he's encouraged with what he's hearing, "I've been encouraged by the greater optimism I'm hearing from a broad range of business contacts. People in everything from tourism to commercial real estate. And not just in the pockets of strength that we've seen in the past year or so."

The Fed has said it would keep the federal funds rate near zero until the nation's unemployment rate falls to 6.5 percent. It stands at 7.6 percent.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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