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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fed Beige Book: "USA economic activity continued to expand at modest pace" (Review) "Labor markets were generally stable"

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Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington


Summary
The Federal Reserve Board issued the much scrutinized Beige Book on September 7, 2011, effective August 26, 2011. Overall, across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts, "economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace, though some Districts noted mixed or weakening activity". The prior Beige Book was released July 27, 2011, effective July 15, 2011. The Federal Reserve wording, and theme, plus District reports continues positive regarding USA economic activity, recovery, and growth - but not as quite as positive as the prior report. As always, the Fed Beige Book, officially titled the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District, is carefully worded.

USA Financial System
Indeterminate compared to prior report. "Loan demand remained stable or slightly weaker, and lending standards were largely unchanged with an improvement in loan quality."

USA Jobs Nationwide
Slightly more positive than prior report. "Labor markets were generally stable, although some Districts reported modest employment growth.".

Economic Conditions Nationwide by Category Based on Information On or Before August 26, 2011:
Consumer Spending: "increased slightly in most Districts, but non-auto retail sales were flat or down in some Districts."
Automobile Sales: "Most Districts reporting on auto sales noted increases in activity, despite lingering supply disruptions for some Japanese nameplates."
Travel and Tourism: "Tourism activity remained solid in most Districts"
NonFinancial Services: "activity edged higher in most Districts"
Transportation: mixed reports
Manufacturing: "conditions were mixed across the country, but the pace of activity slowed in many Districts"
Residential Real Estate: "activity remained weak overall, although a few Districts noted some slight improvements."
Commercial Real Estate: "conditions remained weak or little changed in most Districts"
Banking and Finance: "Most districts cited overall loan demand as stable to slightly weaker"
Agriculture: "Harsh summer weather strained agricultural activity in many Districts"
Natural Resources: "Energy activity generally expanded since the last survey period, with additional gains expected in coming months"
Employment: "Labor markets were generally steady, although some Districts reported modest employment growth"
Wages: "Most Districts reported that wage pressures were minimal"
Prices: "majority of Districts reported fewer price pressures"

Economic Conditions By Federal Reserve District Based on Information On or Before August 26, 2011
Boston: continue to report mixed results
New York: economic growth has remained sluggish
Philadelphia: business activity has been more mixed and somewhat weaker overall
Clevelandeconomy grew at a slow pace
Richmondeconomic activity slowed
Atlanta: economic activity continued to expand at a very subdued pace
Chicagoeconomic activity expanded more slowly
St. Louiseconomy has continued to grow at a modest pace
Minneapoliseconomy has grown slightly
Kansas Cityeconomy expanded modestly
Dallaseconomy expanded at a modest pace
San Francisco: economic activity continued to expand modestly

Conclusion
This September 7, 2011 Beige Book is not as positive as the previous July 27, May 27, April 13 and March 2, 2011 reports. The March and April reports were the most positive post-recession reports so far. Overall, the District reports were not as positive. 7 of the 12 districts, Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis reported slowing, weakened, very subdued, slight, or sluggish economic growth. Boston reported mixed results. The remainder, 4 of the 12 districts, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco reported modest economic growth. The weakness is pronounced in the east and modest growth in the west.


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