Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Fed's Beige Book: Economic Growth "moderate or modest", "concern about tariffs", "Shrinking Margins"

by Bill McBride on 7/18/2018 02:07:00 PM

Concern about tariffs. Shrinking margins. Slow growth in existing home sales.

Fed's Beige Book "This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston based on information collected on or before July 9, 2018. "

Economic activity continued to expand across the United States, with 10 of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts reporting moderate or modest growth. The outliers were the Dallas District, which reported strong growth driven in part by the energy sector, and the St. Louis District where growth was described as slight. Manufacturers in all Districts expressed concern about tariffs and in many Districts reported higher prices and supply disruptions that they attributed to the new trade policies. All Districts reported that labor markets were tight and many said that the inability to find workers constrained growth. Consumer spending was up in all Districts with particular strength in Dallas and Richmond. Contacts reported higher input prices and shrinking margins. Six Districts specifically mentioned trucking capacity as an issue and attributed it to a shortage of commercial drivers. Contacts in several Districts reported slow growth in existing home sales but were not overly concerned about rising interest rates. Commercial real estate was largely unchanged.
Employment continued to rise at a modest to moderate pace in most Districts. Labor markets were described as tight, with most Districts reporting firms had difficulty finding qualified labor. ... On balance, wage increases were modest to moderate, with some differences across sectors; a couple of Districts cited a pickup in the pace of wage growth.
emphasis added