beige book

Robin Harding

Attention Federal Reserve banks: when it is your turn to compile the Beige Book, please help us lazy reporters out and include a summary of whether there was contraction or expansion in each Fed district.

In September’s Beige Book the first paragraph included this:

Economic growth at a modest pace was the most common characterization of overall conditions, as provided by the five western Districts of St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco. The reports from Boston and Cleveland also pointed to positive developments or net improvements compared with the previous reporting period. However, the remaining Districts of New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Chicago all highlighted mixed conditions or deceleration in overall economic activity.

Whereas in October all we got was this

Robin Harding

The Fed’s beige book is one of the less useful economic reports: it looks backward at what has been going on around the country and the qualitative information can be hard to compare to other times.

It’s quite fun to pick out some snippets of the detail, though. The sense this time is that economic conditions are, well, a bit beige.


The specific sales reports range from “extraordinary demand” at a semiconductor firm to less-than-anticipated demand at two firms making life science equipment and medical devices. In particular, the semiconductor firm reports sales in the second quarter were 17 percent above their pre-recession peak.

A New Hampshire contact says that some types of homes are still selling well, notably those in convenient locations near major highways. Meanwhile, prices in rural New Hampshire are “plummeting.”


Simone Baribeau

The Beige book backs Bernanke. The economy’s improving, albeit modestly, according to the aggregation of anecdotal evidence of economic activity in the 12 Federal Reserve districts. No big shockers in the report, but a few interesting items:

  • BP spill. Tourism’s up almost across the board, but the oil spill may be a drag. Atlanta reported “that the Gulf oil spill and Tennessee floods had already resulted in some vacation lodging cancellations. The potential exists for a much greater impact, although contacts are quite uncertain as to the ultimate effects.”


Simone Baribeau

It seems Canadians were boosting sales near the border in the New York and Minneapolis Federal Reserve districts, according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige book, a periodic anecdotal assessment of regional economies.

No surprise – the loonie is at par with the dollar – but just one vivid example of the benefits of the falling greenback.

Simone Baribeau

The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book”, an aggregation of anecdotal evidence of economic activity in the 12 districts, showed ten of them reporting an improvements, compared with eight in the last report.

But, no big surprise, the improvements are typically modest. Holiday spending was up in 2009, but still well below 2007 levels. Labour markets were still “generally weak,” though some hiring was reporting in a few districts. “Modest” wage increases were seen in only a few districts.

Among the interesting items: 

Krishna Guha

The beige book is a tad softer than expected, writes Krishna Guha of the Financial Times 

Krishna Guha

Better but not upbeat. The latest Fed beige book survey makes for happier reading than the previous one in July, but the overall message was stabilisation rather than growth, writes Krishna Guha of the Financial Times