The Federal Reserve released their Beige Book last week which provides anecdotal comentary on the state of the economy from the 12 regional banks. While it doesn’t provide stats, in many ways its a better way to understand how elements of the economy are unfolding. Here is the release schedule. It provides a national summary and specific behaviors in the member regions.
Consumer spending increased slowly in most Districts, weighed down by sluggish sales of vehicles and housing-related goods. While a number of districts noted some bloating in automobile inventories, most non-auto retailers indicated satisfaction with inventory levels. Tourism was generally characterized as steady but relatively strong. Reports on the service sector varied by industry and by district: some found the trucking and information technology industries to be relatively strong, but others provided mixed reports on air transportation and health care. Manufacturing activity continued to expand in all districts, despite pockets of weakness mostly related to autos and residential construction. Reports on real estate and construction were uniformly weak for the residential sector, but fairly widespread strength was recounted in the commercial sector. Financial institutions reported some softening in loan demand, especially for home mortgages, but noted that credit quality was still favorable. Drought-like conditions in much of the nation have hampered crop production and livestock while energy production remained at a high level.
[Disclosure: I am one of interviewees for the New York Region]
Tags: Beige Book