Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Beige Book: Turmoil has had Limited Impact Outside of Real Estate

by Bill McBride on 9/05/2007 02:45:00 PM

From the Fed's Beige Book:

Reports from the Federal Reserve Districts indicate that economic activity has continued to expand.
Most Banks reported that the recent developments in financial markets had led to tighter lending standards for residential mortgages, which was having a noticeable effect on housing activity, and several noted that the reduction in credit availability added to uncertainty about when the housing market might turn around. While several Banks noted that commercial real estate markets had also experienced somewhat tighter credit conditions, a number commented that credit availability and credit quality remained good for most consumer and business borrowers. Outside of real estate, reports that the turmoil in financial markets had affected economic activity during the survey period were limited.
emphasis added.
And on Real Estate and Construction:
Residential real estate and construction weakened further in most Districts while the commercial market remained steady. Most Districts reported weak or declining residential sales and declining or stable prices. Markets in a few Districts did show some strength. Both sales and prices have been increasing in the Massachusetts housing market; the New York City apartment market remains tight as rents rise; and home sales rose in Louisville. Inventories of unsold homes are generally reported to be high. Moreover, contacts in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, and Dallas believe softness in the market will continue in the near future, with potential for further declines.

Commercial real estate and construction markets were generally stable to expanding across the Districts. Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and San Francisco indicated continued expansion in nonresidential construction and commercial real estate. Dallas described the level of nonresidential activity as high, and St. Louis said commercial construction remained strong. New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, and Kansas City indicated commercial construction and real estate markets were steady or stable. Vacancy rates are reported to be low or declining in most Districts, and rents are rising modestly in many. Boston, New York, Richmond, Chicago, Kansas City, and Dallas noted some tightening of credit in the commercial real estate market.