Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fed Beige Book: USA Economic Activity Continues to Improve

♦♦♦




A Quick Review of the Beige Book


Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District (June 9, 2010)

The Federal Reserve Board issued the much scrutinized Beige Book this week.  Overall, "economic activity continued to improve" since the last Beige Book 8 weeks ago, dated April 14.  Many districts reported "modest" improvement.

Regarding the USA financial system:
"Financial activity was little changed on balance from the previous report. Commercial and industrial lending by banks remained weak in most Districts, although Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco noted business loan demand was firming."  In other words, there has been no significant increase in bank lending nationwide.

Regarding jobs nationwide, the report states:
"Labor market conditions improved slightly with permanent employment levels edging up in most Districts. In addition, many Districts again noted an increase in temporary hires, with Boston and Dallas also indicating a pick up in temporary-to-permanent transitions. By industry, manufacturing was the most often cited source of employment gains (both temporary and permanent), and Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Dallas noted an increase in the manufacturing workweek. Other sources of increased employment were the biopharmaceutical industry in Boston, retail trade in Chicago, and transportation in Dallas."  The report subsequently reviews labor conditions by each Federal Reserve District.

Economic Conditions Nationwide by Category since prior April  14, 2010 report:
Consumer Spending & Tourism improved.
Business Spending increased moderately.
Nonfinancial Services activity was slightly improved.
Manufacturing & Transportation activity continued to gradually improve.
Real Estate & Construction: Residential real estate activity improved. Home sales and construction increased prior to April 30 home-buyer tax credit deadline.
Banking & Finance little changed on balance.
Agriculture & Natural Resources: some prices up, some prices down.
Employment, Wages, & Prices: Labor market conditions improved slightly.

Economic Activity & Conditions By Federal Reserve District since prior April 14, 2010 report:
Boston has stable to inceasing activity.
New York has strengthened further.
Philadelphia has advanced modestly.
Cleveland showed further signs of strengthening.
Richmond continued to post moderate gains.
Atlanta appeared to have improved modestly.
Chicago continued to improve.
St. Louis has increased modestly.
Minneapolis grew at a steady pace.
Kansas City grew modestly.
Dallas continued to improve.
San Francisco posted further modest improvement.

Conclusion
Continued, modest improvement of economic activity and conditions in the last 8 weeks sums up the Beige Book.  The wording is cautiously optimistic.  Overall, there is no robust growth or strong recovery stated or implied.  Bank lending is flat and employment has "improved slightly".

Beige Book
The Beige Book web page is here.  The entire report can be downloaded as an Adobe .pdf file or viewed as HTML.


♦♦♦

Seeking Alpha