Federal Reserve Releases Latest Beige Book
Not the facts, Ma’am
The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book is updated eight times a year, two weeks before the Fed’s policymaking meetings in Washington, DC.
Interestingly, there are no numbers or statistics cited in the Beige Book — staffers at each of the 12 regional banks gather information via phone, email and questionnaires from experts and business leaders to summarize commentary and opinion regarding the state of consumer spending, manufacturing, real estate and other regionally significant economic sectors such as tourism and farming. (from How the Fed compiles the Beige Book, at a glance in Businessweek)
Modest economic growth
Since the last Beige Book update, the Fed is reporting modest growth in all but two of the 12 districts — the New York District reported level activity, while Kansas City noted some slowing down.
USA Today points to how “ordinary” the economic recovery, a relief after dire predictions about how the country would recover from a recession:
Six years after the housing bubble peaked, the beige book paints a picture of a recovery led by the classically cyclical factors of improving housing markets, better car sales and stronger credit quality.
Housing market leading the way
According to the Fed’s report, the housing market is showing “widespread improvement.” Home sales are up in all 12 financial districts, even “substantially” higher in some areas. Home prices are reported to be “steady to increasing, with declining inventories” putting upward pressure on prices in five districts (Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco).
“New home construction and sales were more mixed but still mostly improved,” with increases in construction and/or new home sales seen in the Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco Districts.
Read the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District from the Federal Reserve here.