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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fed Beige Book: USA Economic Growth at Modest Pace (Review) *But widespread signs of deceleration*

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Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington


Fed Beige Book: USA Economic Growth at a Modest Pace


Summary
The Federal Reserve Board issued the much scrutinized Beige Book today, September 8, 2010. Overall, "continued growth in national economic activity during the reporting period of mid-July through the end of August, but with widespread signs of a deceleration compared with preceding periods. Economic growth at a modest pace was the most common characterization of overall conditions..."

The Federal Reserve continues with the wording and theme of "modest" and "moderate" regarding economic activity, recovery, and growth. As always, the Fed Beige Book, officially titled the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District, is carefully worded. 

Regarding the USA Financial System
"Reports from financial institutions pointed to generally stable or slightly lower loan demand and noted some modest improvements in credit quality. Most Districts reported little or no change from existing low levels of commercial and industrial lending... Consumer lending remained sluggish in general... Lending standards were largely unchanged."

Regarding Jobs Nationwide
"More generally, however, the reports suggested ample supply of qualified applicants for open positions."

Economic Conditions Nationwide by Category Since the Prior July 28, 2010 Report:
Consumer Spending mixed but suggested a slight increase on balance
Travel and Tourism activity picked up relative to seasonal norms
Business Spending activity was largely stable or up slightly
Nonfinancial Services activity was largely stable or up slightly
Manufacturing activity pointed to further expansion, pace of growth appeared to be slower
Transportation activity
Residential Real Estate: home sales slowed further
Commercial Real Estate: demand for commercial, industrial, retail space generally remained depressed
Real Estate Construction slowdown in activity
Banking and Finance generally stable or slightly lower loan demand
Agriculture and Natural Resources continued gains in demand and sales
Employment, Wages, and Prices: upward price and wage pressures remained limited

Economic Activity and Conditions By Federal Reserve District Since the Prior July 28, 2010 Report
Boston has recent business developments that are positive on average
New York economy showed signs of decelerating, on balance
Philadelphia business conditions have been mixed
Cleveland economic activity showed a slight improvement
Richmond showed signs of slowing or contracting economic activity, became more prevalent
Atlanta indicated that the pace of economic activity continued to slow
Chicago pace of economic activity moderated
St. Louis economy has grown modestly
Minneapolis economy grew modestly
Kansas City growth was modest
Dallas economy expanded modestly
San Francisco economic activity appeared to expand modestly

Conclusion
This September 8 Beige Book, by district economic activity, is rather mixed. Economic activity in 5 of the 12 districts was mixed or slowing. The remaining 7 districts reported basically modest improvement of economic activity and conditions. The wording is cautiously optimistic. Overall, there is no robust growth or strong recovery stated or implied. Bank lending is flat or contracting. Employment overall is not addressed, except to note an "ample supply of qualified applicants for open positions."

Related Articles and Links
Beige Book FRB
Fed Chair Bernanke: Pace of Economic Recovery Has Slowed Somewhat (Review) Financial Controls
Fed Chair Bernanke: Moderate Recovery, Outlook "Unusually Uncertain" (Review) Financial Controls
FOMC Lowers USA 2010 GDP Projection (Review) Financial Controls


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