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posted on 15 July 2015

July 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 "economic activity expanded from mid-May through June". The previous report said "overall economic activity expanded during the reporting period from early April to late May". It is hard to tell if overall growth rate went up or down - and the usefullness 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 03 July 2015. The summary for this 15 July 2015 release reads as follows:

All twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity expanded from mid-May through June. Activity in New York, Philadelphia, and Kansas City grew at a modest pace, while Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco saw moderate growth. Compared with the previous report, growth remained steady in Cleveland, and Boston reported conditions were stable or improving. Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Dallas reported that contacts were optimistic about future growth, while Chicago and San Francisco cited optimism coming from specific sectors.

Improvements in consumer spending varied by District. Some Districts indicated that low energy prices helped boost spending, while some border Districts noted weakness tied to the rising dollar. Automobile sales increased in almost all Districts. Tourism expanded in most regions, except New York where activity slowed.

Nonfinancial services experienced moderate growth since the previous report. Boston, Richmond, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Dallas noted strength in professional and business services. Boston and Richmond saw growth increase for healthcare services.

Transportation activity was mixed across the country. Trucking was weak in Philadelphia but volumes held steady in Dallas. Ports in Richmond cited record volumes in freight. Reports on manufacturing activity were uneven across the country, but positive in Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, and St. Louis.

Reports on residential and commercial real estate markets were positive. Home sales increased for most Districts, although Philadelphia and Dallas reported sales were mixed, and New York reported a decline in sales volume. Most Districts noted home price appreciation. Residential construction activity varied across most of the country. Commercial real estate activity increased at a modest pace for several Districts, while non-residential construction, especially multifamily, was strong in many Districts.

Lending activity increased since the last report. Real estate lending was up in half of the Districts. Consumer lending, particularly auto loans, rose in several Districts. Districts that reported on delinquency rates indicated that they were low. Credit quality and credit standards were mostly unchanged since the previous report.

Among Districts reporting on agriculture, rainfall damaged crops in Chicago and St. Louis but helped improve growing conditions in Dallas. Oil and natural gas drilling declined in Cleveland, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas. Coal production was flat in Cleveland and down in Richmond. Energy related capital expenditures were down in some Districts.

Across Districts, employment levels increased or were steady in most sectors, although there were some reports of layoffs in manufacturing and energy industries. Labor market tightness was reported in Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Dallas.

Most Districts cited only modest wage pressures aside from positions that required specialized skills or were in high-demand. Prices for inputs and finished goods remained steady since the previous report.

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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