Beige Book — Summary of Economic Conditions

Last week the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released the latest Beige Book, a 47-page summary of “comments received from business and other contacts outside the Federal Reserve” and a very important gauge of the extent to which the present economic recovery has continued or faltered. (The report is based upon information received on or before May 28th.)

In general, the summary indicates that “economic activity continued to improve since the last report across all twelve Federal Reserve Districts, although many Districts described the pace of growth as ‘modest.’ Consumer spending and tourism activity generally increased. Business spending also rose, on net, with employment and capital spending edging up but inventory investment slowing. By sector, nonfinancial services, manufacturing, and transportation continued to gradually improve. Residential real estate activity in many Districts was buoyed by the April deadline for the homebuyer tax credit. Commercial real estate remained weak, although some Districts reported an increase in leasing. Financial activity was little changed on balance, although a few Districts noted a modest increase in lending. Spring planting was generally ahead of the normal pace, while conditions in the natural resource sectors varied across the Districts. Prices of final goods and services were largely stable as higher input costs were not being passed along to customers and wage pressures continued to be minimal.”

For a more condensed summary of the findings of the larger report, see this four-page summary.

For an excellent overview of the Beige Book implications, complete with useful graphic displays of a variety of important economic trends, see Hale Stewart’s analysis at the fivethirtyeight.com blog . (Note: fivethirtyeight.com is not a nonpartisan website, but generally offers accurate and perceptive statistical analysis of political and economic developments.)

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Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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