November Beige Book Summary: Best of 2009

by: The Good News Economist

On Wednesday the Fed released its summary of comments received from its 12 regional districts in the November time-frame. The notes represent a collection of comments from businesses and other contacts outside the Federal Reserve and does not necessarily represent the views of Federal Reserve officials.

The regional reports indicate that economic conditions continue to improve across the U.S. since the last report and in general represent the best economic reports of 2009.

The good news highlights are summarized below:

Boston--results show signs of improvement. Some firms are starting to hire or plan to do so next year. Most businesses expect the recovery to take hold in 2010.

New York--The economy has gotten better. No indications of significant price pressures. General merchandise retailers say sales have improved. Signs of a pickup in tourism in New York City. District auto dealers reported a rebound in sales.

Philadelphia--Manufacturers reported an increase in shipments. Retailers indicate sales have been rising.

Cleveland--Staffing firm representatives report an uptick in job openings across a swath of industries.

Richmond--Housing, retail and banking economic activity increased. The residential real estate sector continues to benefit from tax credits for home buyers.

Atlanta--A majority of retailers described activity as exceeding their modest expectations. Office, industrial markets, and commercial construction finally showed signs of bottoming out at low levels. The pace of layoffs has slowed.

Chicago--Economic activity is up. Business spending included an increase in temporary hires.

St. Louis--Economic activity showed signs of improvement. The sales outlook among the retailers for the rest of the year shows 58 percent of the retailers expect sales for the rest of the year to increase or remain unchanged over 2008 levels.

Minneapolis--Overall economic activity was up. Services, manufacturing, energy, mining and residential real estate actually saw moderate increases and consumer spending has stabilized. Labor markets showed signs of improvement.

Kansas City--The economy expanded modestly in October and early November. Retail sales increased and were expected to keep doing so. Manufacturing grew moderately. Residential real estate recovered further.

Dallas--Economic conditions have firmed over the past six weeks. Activity improved in several industries, such as high-tech manufacturing, paper, petrochemicals, staffing services, housing and energy.

San Francisco--Economic activity appeared to pick up modestly. Consumer demand showed signs of improvement. Agricultural producers reported stable sales. Demand for housing showed further modest improvement and banking contacts reported largely stable loan demand.

Overall the economic recovery continues to build momentum.

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