SBE - Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

05/29/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/30/2024 12:34

Beige Book Blues on Economy

By SBE Council at 29 May, 2024, 7:20 pm

by Raymond J. Keating -

The latest edition of the Federal Reserve's Beige Book wasn't exactly heartening on the economy. Most Fed districts reported "slight or modest" economic growth, while two noted no growth.

The Fed's "Beige Book," by the way, offers information based on reports from Fed district bank and branch directors, as well as interviews of business contacts, economists, market observers and others.

Regarding a few key areas of the economy:

● Retail spending "was flat to up slightly," with auto sales flat.

● Travel and tourism strengthened due to "increased leisure and business travel, but hospitality contacts were mixed in their outlooks for the summer season."

● Meanwhile, "activity in transportation services was mixed, as port and rail activity increased whereas reports of trucking and freight demand varied."

Labor markets appeared to sync up with the readings of a sluggish economy: "Employment rose at a slight pace overall. Eight Districts reported negligible to modest job gains, and the remaining four Districts reported no changes in employment."

Employment availability improved in a majority of districts, with select industries or areas still experiencing labor shortages.

As for where the economy might be headed, it was reported: "Overall outlooks grew somewhat more pessimistic amid reports of rising uncertainty and greater downside risks."

In the end, this is all very troubling, but not surprising, given that policymaking is broadly anti-growth on tax, regulatory, trade, government spending and monetary fronts.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

His latest books on the economy are The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist, The Weekly Economist II:52 More Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist and The Weekly Economist III: Another 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist.