Fed Beige Book: Expansion Continues in Moderation

Contacts in all 12 Federal Reserve Districts reported that the last six-week tracking period of the Beige Book economic roundup has brought continued growth with, stop us if you’ve heard this many times before, manufacturing leading the charge.

Manufacturing’s mid-winter increase was characterized as “steady” through the nation, with new orders, shipments and production up in most of the districts. Auto-related industries and those tied to capital spending, as previously noted in Business Credit and NACM eNews, continued to thrive.

Agriculture and real estate were more mixed bags, pending on the location – but, for the latter, anything above across-the-board stagnation for the reeling construction industry reads like a win.
Business credit quality and demand were stable or showed a slight uptick in districts including Cleveland, Richmond, San Francisco in Atlanta. There was particular middle-market strength in Dallas in that regard, and there was also a bump in large corporate lending in Chicago.

For overall growth, across all sectors, Philadelphia and Atlanta demonstrated the best six-week showing, according to Beige Book. The east-coast duo was followed by auto-friendly districts of Cleveland and Chicago as well as Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco.

The good news was well-timed for a long-battered Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. The chairman was due on Capitol Hill Thursday to present the Semi-annual Monetary Policy report to the House Financial Services Committee, where he has faced sharp criticism before election-mode lawmakers in recent months.

Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer

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