The Fed’s Beige Book is a summary and analysis of economic activity and conditions, issued roughly two weeks prior to monetary policy meetings of the Fed.
“Book” is an adequate expression. This month, the Beige Book is 50 pages long. It’s prepared with the aid of reports from the district Federal Reserve Banks.
Don’t bother reading the book. It’s not worth the slog.
Beige Book Highlights
Bloomberg offers these Beige Book Highlights.
The Beige Book, prepared for the September 17 FOMC meeting, is not underscoring any urgency for a rate hike. Eleven of 12 districts report only moderate to modest growth with the Cleveland district reporting only slight growth. This compares with 10 districts in the July Beige Book which reported moderate to modest growth. Most districts describe labor demand as no more than modest to moderate and most describe actual job growth as no better than slight or modest. But there are isolated areas of labor shortages and four districts report a rise in wages for specific industries. Inflation is described as stable with only slight upward pressure across districts.
The sample period for the report ended on August 24, capturing the beginning of global market volatility. Several districts cited China as a factor slowing down demand. Still manufacturing, boosted by the auto sector, is described as mostly positive though two districts, New York and Kansas City, report contraction. The strong dollar is cited by five districts as a negative for manufacturing. Farm conditions are described as mixed.
Housing is a clear positive in the report, with sales and prices rising in every district. Construction is described as strong. Retail sales are also positive and are continuing to expand in most districts. Loan demand is generally described as rising. There’s no significant immediate reaction to the report.
Will They or Won’t They?
It matters not whether the Fed hikes or not. Either way, bubbles have formed in equities and junk bonds. Tiny hikes will not cause a recession, and the bubbles are destined to pop anyway.
In honor of the question, however, here’s a musical tribute from the ’40s, with thanks to reader Charles.
Link if video does not play: Your “Undecided” Now What are You Going to Do?
Mike “Mish” Shedlock