Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Fed Says Small Improvement in Economy

The twelve Districts of the Federal Reserve reported either "stabilization or modest improvements" since their last report, though often from depressed levels to begin with, according to the Fed's most recent publication of the Beige Book.

Residential real estate and manufacturing lead the more positive sector reports, both showing a pattern of improvement since the summer. Consumer spending and non-financial services were reported as mixed.

Commercial real estate was reported to be one of the weakest sectors, reported as "weak or deteriorating" in all twelve Districts. The inability to gain credit was often cited as an ongoing problem for businesses that wanted to purchase or build space. High vacancy rates were also noted as a key concern, especially for landlords that were not offering concession's.

The Fed said that generally, reports of sector gains outnumbered the declines, but nearly all improvements were "small or scattered."

Banks did poorly in several Districts, citing "continued erosion in credit quality" and they often expect more to come in the future. The surge in mortgage lending contributed to the one bright spot in the banking sector, thanks to the first-time home buyer's credit set to expire at the end of November.

Consumer spending remained weak in most Districts, with some improvements noted. Slower auto sales followed after the end of the Cash for Clunkers program, but the program reduced new care inventories and paved the way for an increase in used car sales in several Districts.

The labor market was generally described as weak or mixed across Districts, but there were a few encouraging signs. Most Districts generally reported stronger manufacturing activity since the last report, but growth rates vary by industry and some Districts reported no overall increase. Wages were reported as "subdued" across most Districts.

The Beige Book is a summary of the current economic conditions in the central bank's twelve districts; each district obtains reports from bank and branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources.

The Beige Book is released eight times a year about two weeks before the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets to discuss the federal funds rate. The last publication prior to the current release was September 9, and the next publication is scheduled to be released December 2.



Source:
The Federal Reserve Board
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Monday, 18 November 2019

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