July 2014 Beige Book: Economic Activity Expanded (Again, You Need to Guess If It Is Better or Worse than Last Month)
Econintersect: The consolidated economic report from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts (Beige Book) simply said "economic activity continued to expand since the previous report". The previous report said "economic activity expanded". The key words again this month did not indicate the rate of expansion was better or worse than the previous report - but it remains mixed across the country.
Please see the end of this post for words the Federal Reserve uses when the economy is entering a recession.
This report is based on information collected on or before 07 July 2014. The summary for the 16 July 2014 release reads as follows:
All twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity continued to expand since the previous report. The pace of economic growth was characterized as moderate in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco, while the remaining Districts reported modest expansion. Compared to the previous reporting period, Boston and Richmond noted a slightly slower pace of growth. Most Districts were optimistic about the outlook for growth.
Overall consumer spending increased in every District. Retail sales grew modestly in most Districts, with increases that were generally similar to the previous reporting period. Vehicle sales remained stronger than non-auto retail sales, with Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and San Francisco indicating robust to very strong auto sales. Tourism activity expanded in all reporting Districts, with growth ranging from slight in Philadelphia to very strong in Boston. Hotel contacts described robust activity in the Boston, New York, Atlanta, and Minneapolis Districts, while Philadelphia and Richmond noted activity levels that were in line with seasonal norms.
Activity in the nonfinancial services sector continued to grow across all Districts at a modest to moderate pace. Many Districts reported positive growth for professional and business services, including healthcare consulting, advertising, engineering, accounting, and technology. Overall, transportation activity rose at a moderate pace since the previous survey period. Broad-based demand for trucking and rail services across the Districts increased, and the Richmond District reported strong growth in port container traffic, with increases in both imports and exports. Manufacturing activity expanded in all twelve Districts. Contacts in the metal and auto industries generally reported positive growth, while manufacturers in the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, and Chicago Districts reported increased demand for their products from the energy sector.
Reports on real estate activity varied across the Districts. Many Districts reported low inventories and increasing home prices, but demand was mixed. Boston, New York, and St. Louis reported home sales were below year-ago levels, while Chicago noted a decrease in home sales since the last survey period. Home sales in other Districts remained steady or increased. Multi-family sales and leasing activity were robust in the New York and Dallas Districts. Residential construction rose for single-family homes in the Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts, while New York, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco reported increases for multifamily construction. Commercial construction activity generally strengthened across the Districts, due to higher demand and low vacancy rates.
Loan volumes rose across the nation, with slight to moderate increases reported in most Districts. Credit quality remained stable or improved slightly in most Districts, while San Francisco noted a slight decline. Credit standards were generally unchanged, although Richmond noted an easing of cost terms for well-qualified commercial and industrial borrowers, and Philadelphia and Chicago mentioned that competitive pressures were leading some financial institutions to take on higher credit risks.
Among Districts reporting on agriculture, heavy rains improved soil moisture levels in the Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts, while drought conditions persisted in San Francisco. Most fall crops were reported in good or better condition, and expectations of higher production lowered crop prices. Profitability improved for livestock operators in the Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Kansas City Districts due to high cattle and hog prices. Oil production expanded in the Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts, while natural gas and coal production remained relatively steady in reporting Districts.
Labor market conditions improved, as all twelve Districts reported slight to moderate employment growth. Several Districts continued to report some difficulty finding workers for skilled positions. Aside from higher wages to attract talent for these skilled positions, wage pressures remained modest in most Districts. Price pressures were generally contained, with most Districts reporting slight to modest price increases for both inputs and finished goods. Several Districts noted higher prices for meat, dairy products, construction materials, and some metals (namely steel, copper, and nickel).
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