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posted on 15 April 2015

April 2015 Beige Book: Economy Continues to Grow (at the Same Rate??)

Econintersect: The consolidated economic report from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts (Beige Book) said "that the economy continued to expand across most regions from mid-February through the end of March". The previous report said "that economic activity continued to expand across most regions and sectors from early January through mid-February". Seems like the rate of growth is unchanged?

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 03 April 2015. The summary for this 15 April 2015 release reads as follows:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicate that the economy continued to expand across most regions from mid-February through the end of March. Activity in the Richmond, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts grew at a moderate pace, while New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis cited modest growth. Boston reported that business activity continues to expand, while Cleveland cited a slight pace of growth. Atlanta and Kansas City described economic conditions as steady.

Demand for manufactured products was mixed during the current reporting period. Weakening activity was attributed in part to the strong dollar, falling oil prices, and the harsh winter weather. Business service firms saw rising activity, especially for high-tech services, and they expect positive near-term growth. Cargo diversions resulting from labor disputes on the West Coast boosted activity at several East Coast ports. A majority of Districts reported higher retail sales, and they cited consumer savings from lower energy prices as helping boost transactions. Auto sales rose in most Districts. Tourism and business travel is rebounding from the harsh winter, with contacts expecting growth for the remainder of the year in corporate and leisure travel. Residential real estate activity was steady to improving across most Districts, although there was some slowing in housing starts due to abnormal seasonal patterns owing to the harsh weather. Multifamily construction remains strong. Activity in nonresidential real estate was stable or improved slightly across many Districts. Agricultural conditions worsened slightly. Factors contributing to these conditions varied by District, but included wet fields, persistent drought, and a harsh winter. Investment in oil and gas drilling declined, while mining activity was mixed. Banking conditions were largely stable, with some improvement seen in loan demand.

Labor markets remained stable or continued to improve modestly. Layoffs related to the decline in oil and gas prices were reported in multiple Districts. Difficulty finding skilled workers was frequently reported. Districts noted modest upward pressure on wages and overall prices.

Click the "source" hyperlink below to read the full report.

The Beige Book is a summary of current economic conditions:

Commonly known as the Beige Book, this report is published eight times per year. Each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by District and sector. An overall summary of the twelve district reports is prepared by a designated Federal Reserve Bank on a rotating basis.

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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