June 2014 Beige Book: Economic Activity Expanded (You Need to Guess If It Is Better or Worse than Last Month)

June 4th, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: The consolidated economic report from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts (Beige Book) simply said "economic activity expanded". The previous report said "economic activity increased in most regions of the country since the previous report". The key words again this month did not indicate the rate of expansion was better or worse than the previous report - but it was mixed across the country.

Please see the end of this post for words the Federal Reserve uses when the economy is entering a recession.

Follow up:

This report is based on information collected on or before 23 May 2014. The summary for the 04 June 2014 release reads as follows:

All twelve Federal Reserve Districts report that economic activity expanded during the current reporting period. The pace of growth was characterized as moderate in the Boston, New York, Richmond, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts, and modest in the remaining regions. Compared with the previous report, the pace of growth picked up in the Cleveland and St. Louis Districts but slowed slightly in the Kansas City District.

Consumer spending expanded across almost all Districts, to varying degrees. Non-auto retail sales grew at a moderate pace across most of the country: Although improved weather generally gave a boost to business, lingering wintry weather in the Northeast continued to weigh on sales in parts of the Boston and New York Districts. Increasingly strong new vehicle sales were reported by more than half the Districts, with most other regions seeing steady sales; demand was generally reported to be less robust for used vehicles than for new vehicles. Tourism was steady to stronger across most of the country--particularly in most of the eastern seaboard Districts.

Activity in the service sector, excluding finance, grew across most reporting Districts, though New York and San Francisco reported a mixed performance. Boston, Kansas City, and San Francisco noted particular strength among technology firms. Transportation activity strengthened in most Districts reporting on that sector, with Richmond and Atlanta observing brisk growth in port activity, and Cleveland noting a rebound from weather-related weakness in the prior report. Manufacturing activity expanded throughout the nation, and at an increasingly strong pace in a number of Districts--notably along the East Coast, as well as in the St. Louis and Kansas City Districts.

Residential real estate activity was mixed across the country, with some reports of low inventories constraining sales--specifically in the Boston, New York, and Kansas City Districts. Still, home prices continued to increase across most of the country, while the markets for both condos and apartment rentals were mostly robust. Residential construction activity was mixed, with half the Districts reporting increases but a few indicating some weakening in activity; multi-family construction remained particularly robust. Both non-residential construction activity and commercial real estate markets were generally steady to stronger since the last report.

Overall lending activity increased throughout the nation. Roughly two-thirds of the Districts reported rising loan demand, with particular strength reported in New York and San Francisco. Credit quality and delinquency rates generally improved, while credit standards were mostly unchanged.

Among Districts reporting on agriculture, drought conditions caused problems in the Dallas and San Francisco Districts, and, to a lesser extent, in the Chicago District; conversely, Atlanta and Minneapolis reported that excessive moisture delayed plantings. Energy industry activity strengthened in most Districts, though coal production was steady in Cleveland and declined in the Richmond District.

Labor market conditions generally strengthened in the latest reporting period, with hiring activity steady to stronger across most of the country, and several Districts reporting shortages of skilled workers. In most Districts, wage increases have remained generally subdued, though Chicago and Dallas noted increased costs for health benefits. Prices of both inputs and finished goods and services were mostly steady to up slightly.

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"

Steven Hansen

Source: Federal Reserve







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