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posted on 02 September 2015

September 2015 Beige Book: Economy Continues to Grow?

The consolidated economic report from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts (Beige Book) said that "economic activity continued expanding across most regions and sectors during the reporting period from July to mid-August". The previous report said "economic activity expanded from mid-May through June". 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 24 August 2015. The summary for this 02 September 2015 release reads as follows:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicate economic activity continued expanding across most regions and sectors during the reporting period from July to mid-August. Six Districts cited moderate growth while New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Dallas reported modest increases in activity. The Cleveland District noted only slight growth since the last report. In most cases, these recent results represented a continuation of the overall pace reported in the July Beige Book. Respondents in most sectors across Districts expected growth to continue at its recent pace, but the Kansas City report cited more mixed expectations.

District reports on manufacturing activity were mostly positive, although among these, the Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Dallas Districts painted a somewhat mixed picture across manufacturing sectors. Only the New York and Kansas City Districts cited declines in manufacturing.

Retail contacts in a majority of Districts reported that their sales and revenues continued to expand. By contrast, the Cleveland and Minneapolis Districts cited flat consumer activity since the last report, Atlanta was mixed, and Dallas reported decreased sales year-over-year. Most Districts reported increased auto sales. Among Districts with information on tourism, activity was strong in most reports.

Demand for nonfinancial services, including staffing, generally expanded over the reporting period. Districts mentioning the transportation sector mostly noted activity increases. Districts reporting on the banking sector mostly tallied increases in both business and consumer loan volumes. Credit quality was reported to be improving in most Districts, while credit standards were generally said to be unchanged.

Reports on residential and commercial real estate markets across the Districts were mostly positive. Existing home sales and residential leasing widely improved, with home prices moving up in most areas. Commercial real estate activity also rose in most Districts; commercial construction activity ranged from strong in the Cleveland and Minneapolis Districts to up only slightly in Chicago, while commercial leasing was reported to have increased across the board.

Agricultural conditions were mixed across Districts. Farm contacts indicated that anticipated yields were up for corn and soybeans, but conditions deteriorated in the St. Louis and Kansas City Districts; drought was an ongoing concern in the San Francisco District and was also a factor in parts of the Atlanta and Minneapolis Districts. Districts reporting on the energy sector indicated that conditions were stable to declining; coal production was down in the Richmond and St. Louis Districts, while oil-related activity declined in the Cleveland, Atlanta, and Dallas Districts.

Most Districts reported modest to moderate growth in labor demand, although Boston, Cleveland, and Dallas cited only slight increases in hiring. This tightening of labor markets was said to be pushing wages up slightly in selected industries or occupations, especially in the New York, Cleveland, St. Louis, and San Francisco Districts. Across all Districts, input and selling prices were reported to be stable or up only slightly.

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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