Research >> Economics
Beige Book: Economic activity continued to stabilize
Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts indicate that economic activity continued to stabilize in July and August. Relative to the last report, Dallas indicated that economic activity had firmed, while Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Richmond, and San Francisco mentioned signs of improvement. Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and New York generally described economic activity as stable or showing signs of stabilization; St. Louis remarked that the pace of decline appeared to be moderating. Most Districts noted that the outlook for economic activity among their business contacts remained cautiously positive.
The majority of Districts reported flat retail sales. Richmond, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, and Boston remarked that retailers continued to carefully manage inventories, keeping them in line with low sales levels. A majority of Districts confirmed that the "cash-for-clunkers" program boosted traffic and sales. Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis also noted increases or planned increases in automobile-related production. Most regions reported some improvement in residential real estate markets. Downward pressure on home prices continued in most Districts, although Dallas and New York noted that local prices were firming. Reports on commercial real estate suggest that the demand for space remained weak and that nonresidential construction-related activity continued to decline. San Francisco, Philadelphia, and St. Louis noted that the demand for nonfinancial services remained soft, although the pace of the decline was described as slowing in the latter two Districts. Loan demand was described as weak and many Districts reported that credit standards remained tight. Most Districts reported improvements in manufacturing production. For instance, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Chicago reported moderate increases in new orders. Labor market conditions remained weak across all Districts. However, staffing firms in Atlanta, Dallas, Richmond, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Chicago did report a slight pickup in the demand for temporary workers.
Wage pressures remained minimal across all Districts. Consumer prices were described as being steady in most Districts, although Kansas City and San Francisco noted some downward pressure on retail prices.
Posted: September 9, 2009 Wednesday 02:08 PM