Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Beige Book


The Federal Reserve today released its Beige Book summary of economic
Activity (

Here’s its summary:

“Reports from the Federal Reserve Districts suggest that economic activity remained generally weak in late April and May. Three Districts described economic activity as softer, weaker, or lower, with an additional four Districts reporting slower, sluggish, or modest economic growth. The remaining five Districts of Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Francisco described activity as stable or little changed in recent weeks.

“Consumer spending slowed since the last report as incomes were pinched by rising energy and food prices. Higher energy prices also appeared to damp domestic tourism. Reports on nonfinancial services varied across Districts and industries. Manufacturing activity was generally soft in recent weeks, with weak demand for housing-related and some other products but with increasing demand for exports. Residential real estate markets remained weak across most Districts. Commercial real estate conditions varied across Districts, as did reports on nonresidential construction activity. Lending activity also varied across Districts and market segments, though tighter credit standards were reported for most loan categories. Districts reporting on the agriculture and energy sectors noted improved crop conditions and increased drilling and extraction activity.

“Reports of higher input costs were widespread. Manufacturing contacts in several Districts noted some ability to pass along higher costs to customers. Retailers reported mixed results with respect to raising final goods prices. In most Districts, wage pressures were reported as moderate or limited for all but a few skilled-labor positions, as hiring activity remained spotty in most Districts.”

That’s not a rosy picture.

© 2008 Michael B. Lehmann

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