January's Beige Book Shows "Modest" Improvements
January 13, 2010 - This week, the Federal Reserve released the first Beige Book report of the year, stating that economic conditions are improving "modestly further" than in previous months. Ten of the twelve designated districts have seen an increase in activity, while the remaining two districts, Richmond and Philadelphia, were said to have mixed conditions.
The 2009 holiday season brought an increase in consumer spending and tourism for eight of the twelve districts. Notably, this year consumers were seen as "cautious, price sensitive and focused on necessities, but sometimes willing to spend on discretionary purchases". Retailers in Chicago, where holiday retail inventories were kept low, reported that they even ran out of several high-demand items during the busy shopping season.
Nonfinancial services and manufacturing showed an upward turn too, though some areas were still a bit mixed. Manufacturing in New York saw surges in activity, while districts like Atlanta and St. Louis saw minimal improvements.
The end of 2009 also brought an increase in home sales, excluding San Francisco where housing has sustained a continual demand. As expected, commercial real estate has continued to remain weak across the board.