Federal Reserve Beige Book in September Dominated by ‘Moderate’ and ‘Modest’

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The Federal Reserve has released its Beige Book for September of 2016. With so many economists, investors and market watchers being concerned about an imminent interest rate hike, this Beige Book might be getting a closer look than in other periods.

Before you get crazy or get too worried, consider this: the term “moderate” appears 63 times, and the term “modest” appears 81 times. That does not sound very robust or aggressive at all.

Wednesday’s report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and it was based on information collected on or before August 29, 2016. It is important to recall that the Beige Book is not a commentary on the views of Federal Reserve officials. It simply summarizes comments received from businesses and other contacts outside the Federal Reserve System.

For a view on the overall view on inflation in this Beige Book, they said:

Overall price inflation was modest. The Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Dallas reports suggested that prices were largely unchanged from the previous period. St. Louis reported modest price pressures. Businesses in the Atlanta and Kansas City Districts reported slight increases in input prices, while reports on selling prices were mixed. The prices of finished goods rose at a somewhat slower pace in Richmond, compared with the previous reporting period. Contacts in several Districts expect prices to increase modestly in the coming months, and manufacturers in Philadelphia are expecting smaller price increases than nonmanufacturers.

A general review from the twelve Federal Reserve districts combined points toward national economic activity having continued to expand at a modest pace on balance during the reporting period of July through late August. Most Districts reported a “modest” or “moderate” pace of overall growth.

Other general issues noted were as followed:

  • Kansas City and New York reported no change in activity.
  • Philadelphia and Richmond noted that, while still expanding, activity slowed from the previous period.
  • Contacts across the twelve Districts generally expect moderate economic growth in coming months.
  • Overall consumer spending was little changed in most Districts, and auto sales declined somewhat but remained at high levels.
  • Tourism activity was flat from the previous report but above year-earlier levels.
  • Sales of nonfinancial services gained further momentum.
  • Manufacturing activity rose slightly in most Districts.
  • Activity in residential real estate markets grew at a moderate pace, but the pace of sales was constrained in a few Districts by shortages of available homes.
  • Commercial real estate activity expanded further.
  • Demand for business and consumer credit varied across Districts but appeared to expand at a moderate pace overall, with stable credit quality.
  • Agricultural conditions were mixed, with price declines largely offsetting growing volumes.
  • Overall demand for energy-related products and services weakened.
  • Labor market conditions remained tight in most Districts, with moderate payroll growth noted in general.
  • Upward wage pressures increased further and were moderate on balance, with more rapid gains reported for workers with selected specialized skill sets.
  • Price increases remained slight overall.

The rest of the Beige Book has been broken down by individual economic segments around the nation. They also gave a more detailed review of how businesses feel about the economy within each of the 12 districts.

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