Beige Book Notes Pickup In Pace Of Economic Improvement

January 11, 2012 07:37 AM

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book says reports from its twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest national economic activity expanded at a "modest to moderate pace" during the reporting period of late November through the end of December, which is a more upbeat assessment from its last report. Seven Districts characterized growth as modest; of the remaining five, New York and Chicago noted a pickup in the pace of growth, Dallas and San Francisco reported moderate growth, and Richmond indicated that activity flattened or improved slightly.

"Compared with prior summaries, the reports on balance suggest ongoing improvement in economic conditions in recent months, with most Districts highlighting more favorable conditions than identified in reports from the late spring through early fall," it notes.

In its assessment of agriculture, the report states: "Demand for agricultural products was strong during the reporting period, but growing conditions and input prices were mixed. Farm income and profits were reported to be at very high levels by Chicago and Kansas City, enabling many farmers to repay loans and expand their operations, and San Francisco reported further sales growth for a variety of agricultural products. Rising foreign demand was noted as a source of strength for livestock sales in the Atlanta and Dallas Districts and for dairy and meat products in the Chicago District. Growing conditions were somewhat mixed across areas. Farmers and livestock producers in the Atlanta and Dallas Districts have been struggling with ongoing droughts, which have required costly responses such as supplemental feeding of livestock. While timely rains eased drought conditions somewhat in the Dallas and Kansas City Districts, wheat farmers in the latter are hoping for more protective snow cover for the winter crop's dormancy period. In addition, high or rising prices for some inputs were noted by Chicago and Kansas City, tempering farmers' profit expectations for the coming year."

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