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posted on 03 June 2015

June 2015 Beige Book: Economy Continues to Grow (No Relative Words On Rate of Growth Provided)

Econintersect: The consolidated economic report from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts (Beige Book) said that "overall economic activity expanded during the reporting period from early April to late May". The previous report said "that the economy continued to expand across most regions from mid-February through the end of March". It is hard to tell if overall growth went up or down - and the usefulness of the Beige Book is diminished when the Fed does not "guess" whether there was a change in the rate of growth.

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 22 May 2015. The summary for this 03 June 2015 release reads as follows:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest overall economic activity expanded during the reporting period from early April to late May. Activity in the Richmond, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco Districts was characterized as growing at a moderate pace, while the New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis Districts cited modest growth. Contacts in the Boston District reported mixed conditions, and the Cleveland and Kansas City Districts indicated a slight pace of expansion. Compared to the previous report, the pace of growth slowed slightly in the Dallas District but held steady in the Atlanta District. Outlooks among respondents were generally optimistic, with growth expected to continue at a modest to moderate pace in several districts.

Manufacturing activity generally held steady or increased over the reporting period, except for in the Dallas District where it was slightly weaker and in the Kansas City District where it fell markedly. Strength was seen in transportation equipment manufacturing, while continued weakness was reported in primary and fabricated metals products and energy-related industries. Most districts reported an uptick in retail spending, and outlooks were positive, with retailers expecting continued sales growth in 2015. Overall vehicle sales rose, particularly for trucks and SUVs which auto dealers in some districts attributed to lower gasoline prices. Travel and tourism expanded across most reporting districts, except for the New York and Kansas City Districts.

Demand for nonfinancial services increased, and staffing firms reported steady or higher activity. Port activity was strong in the Richmond, Atlanta, and Dallas Districts, but reports on other freight and transportation services activity were mixed. Most districts said residential and commercial real estate activity and construction improved since the last report. Home prices continued rising and low home inventories continued to constrain sales activity in some areas of the country. Overall loan demand increased, with particular strength noted in the New York District. Credit quality and delinquency rates were stable or improved. Credit standards were mostly unchanged, except for scattered reports of easing in the Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta, and San Francisco Districts.

The agricultural sector improved as significant rainfall alleviated the dry spell or improved growing conditions in several districts. However, drought conditions persisted in the San Francisco District and the outbreak of the avian flu severely impacted poultry producers in the Chicago and Minneapolis Districts. Oil and natural gas activity continued to decline in most districts, except for Cleveland where the rig count leveled off. Coal production was flat to down.

Employment levels were up slightly over the reporting period, with some reports of layoffs. Wages rose slightly. Prices were stable or ticked up, although manufacturers in some districts cited lower input 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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