money-printing taper-Lockhart@ (Adds background)
RIYADH, May 13 (Reuters) - Economic conditions in the United States would have to change dramatically for the Federal Reserve to pause or reverse pace of winding down its money printing quantitative easing programme, a top official at the central bank said on Tuesday.
"It would take a rather dramatic change in the course of the U.S. economy" to adjust the path of the Fed's monthly bond purchases, Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said in the Saudi capital.
Lockhart, who said he was speaking in his personal capacity, does not have a vote this year on the Fed's policy-setting board but he participates in its discussions and is considered to be near the centre of its policy spectrum.
To help the U.S. economy recover from a profound recession, the Fed has kept overnight interest rates near zero since late 2008. But it has begun scaling back its bond-buying programme - aimed at pushing down borrowing costs - in recent months amid signs of an upturn in the jobs market.
The Fed is still buying $45 billion in bonds each month, which Lockhart said in his previous speech in Dubai two days ago should reach zero by the central bank's October or December meeting.
The U.S. economy hardly grew in the first quarter but has gathered pace since and Lockhart has said that he expected growth accelerate in the second quarter to an annual growth rate of 3 percent or more, but it may not be clear for some time if the pick-up is sustainable.
(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Writing by Martin Dokoupil; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)