Econintersect: The consolidated economic report from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts (Beige Book) says economic activity "expanded modestly". The previous report said economic activity "continued to expand gradually in July and early August across most regions and sectors".
This appears to mean that the economy grew a little faster (difference in speed between a snail and a caterpillar) in this current period. Please see the end of this post for words the Federal Reserve uses when the economy is entering a recession.
This report indicated that all districts saw growth in their respective economies except the New York District noted a leveling off in economic activity, and Kansas City indicated some slowing in the pace of growth.
The summary for the 10 October 2012 release reads as follows:
..... economic activity generally expanded modestly since the last report. The New York District noted a leveling off in economic activity, and Kansas City indicated some slowing in the pace of growth. In general, other Districts reported that growth continued at a modest pace.
Consumer spending was generally reported to be flat to up slightly since the last report. A number of Districts characterized retail sales as expanding at a modest pace, while reports from New York, Chicago, and Kansas City indicated flat or softening sales. Vehicle sales were also generally characterized as stable but up from a year earlier and generally at favorable levels. Used car sales were mixed. Most Districts described tourism as fairly robust, though Kansas City noted some general softening, while New York and Dallas indicated some scattered signs of weakening.
Residential real estate conditions improved since the last report. Most Districts reported strengthening in existing home sales, while prices were described as steady to increasing, with declining inventories noted in the Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts. Residential construction was also described as rising in most Districts. Commercial real estate markets were mixed since the last report. Office markets showed signs of softening in the northeastern Districts--Boston, New York, and Philadelphia--while most other Districts reported stable or mixed market conditions. Industrial markets showed some strength in the New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Atlanta Districts, while softer conditions were noted in Richmond.
Conditions in the manufacturing sector were mixed but, on balance, somewhat improved since the last report. The Boston, Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts reported some expansion in activity, whereas New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis reported some weakening in activity. The nonfinancial services sector showed modest improvement in the latest reporting period. Richmond, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco reported some expansion in activity, while New York and Philadelphia indicated steady or mixed conditions.
Overall loan demand was steady to stronger in most Districts. Credit standards were little changed since the last report, and a number of Districts noted improvements in loan quality or steady to declining delinquency rates. Agricultural conditions were mixed, with drought conditions continuing to adversely affect much of the mid-section of the nation. Activity in the energy sector remained robust.
Districts mostly reported little change in prices of both finished goods and inputs. Prices for agricultural commodities and petroleum-based products were generally reported to be higher, while natural gas prices were said to be low or declining. Employment conditions were little changed since the last report. Several Districts continued to report shortages of highly skilled workers, but otherwise wage pressures remained modest. Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago noted increases in the costs of employee medical benefits.
Click the "source" hyperlink below to read the full report.
Fed's Words When Economy is entering a Recession
For the December 2007 recession, here is the lead up summary words from the Beige Books:
- 28Nov2007 - "expanding"
- 16Jan2008 - "increasing moderately"
- 05Mar2008 - "growth slowed"
- 16Apr2008 - "weakened"
For the March 2001 recession which ended in November 2001, here are the Beige Book summary words:
- 17Jan2001 - "economic growth slowed"
- 07Mar2001 - "sluggish to modest economic growth"
- 02May2001 - "slow pace of economic activity"
- 13Jun2001 - "little changed or decelerating"
- 08Aug2001 - "slow growth or lateral movement"
- 19Sep2001 - "sluggish"
- 24Oct2001 - "weak economic activity"
- 28Nov2001 - "remained soft"
- 16Jan2002 - "remained weak"
Source: Federal Reserve