Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fed Beige Book: "USA Economic Activity Continued to Expand" (Review) "Labor markets modestly improved"

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Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington

Fed Beige Book: USA Economic Activity Continued to Expand

The Federal Reserve Board issued the much scrutinized Beige Book on March 2, 2011. Overall, "Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace in January and early February." The Federal Reserve wording and theme is more positive regarding economic activity, recovery, and growth than in previous reports. No districts reported overall negative, slow, or held steady economic activity: 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
"Changes in loan demand were mixed across Districts. Lending standards remained tight across most Districts."

Regarding Jobs Nationwide
"Labor market conditions continued to strengthen modestly, with all Districts reporting some degree of improvement."

Economic Conditions Nationwide by Category Based on Information On or Before February 18, 2011:
Consumer Spending: "Retail sales increased in all Districts, except Richmond and Atlanta"
Automobile Sales: "increased compared with a year earlier in most Districts."
Travel and Tourism: reports were mixed
Professional and Nonfinancial Services: "increased activity"
Manufacturing activity: "manufacturing activity improved"
Transportation activity: "concerns over rising fuel costs"
Residential Real Estate: "overall sales and construction remained at low levels"
Commercial Real Estate: "activity showed signs of gaining traction"
Banking and Finance: "loan demand varied across District and loan category"
Agriculture: "adverse weather conditions continued to hamper agricultural production"
Natural Resources: "Energy activity expanded or remained stable"
Employment: "Labor market conditions continued to strengthen modestly"
Wages: "little evidence of wage pressures across Districts"
Prices: "rising input costs"

Economic Conditions By Federal Reserve District Based on Information On or Before February 18, 2011
Boston: improving economic conditions
New Yorkeconomy appears to have expanded at a modest pace
Philadelphia: business activity  improved overall
Cleveland: economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace
Richmondmodest improvement across most sectors
Atlantaeconomic conditions continued to improve at a modest pace
Chicago: economic activity continued to increase
St. Louis: economy expanded modestly
Minneapoliseconomy continued to grow moderately
Kansas Cityeconomy expanded further
Dallaseconomy expanded at a moderate pace
San Franciscoeconomic activity posted further gains

This March 2, 2011 Beige Book, by district economic activity, is the most positive post-recession report so far. No districts reported negative, slow or held steady economic activity. The wording in the last 2 reports continues more optimistic than previous reports.

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