"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beige Book Released, Says Everything Is Mediocre

The Federal Reserve has released the Beige Book!

If you aren't familiar with this, it's also called the Summary of commentary of Current Economic Conditions. From the Fed's web page, "each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by District and sector. An overall summary of the twelve district reports is prepared by a designated Federal Reserve Bank on a rotating basis."

In short, they say that the economy has continued to improve from early October to mid-November. Manufacturing activity was up (except in New York where activity declined), particularly in metal fabrication and automotive industries. consumer spending reports are positive, although "households remain price sensitive and focused on buying necessities."[1] Housing markets remain depressed, and several Districts reported weakening housing sales.[1] Commercial real estate is mixed, agriculture was favorable (with several Districts reporting yields near historic highs), and off-shore agricultural sales increased.

Lots of steadiness, based on the anecdotal reports. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to leap out a window over either.

[1] Really?

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