Federal Reserve Says QE Continues Until Substantial Further Progress

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    Helmholtz Watson

    The Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged at their…


    Helmholtz Watson

    [size=5][b] St Louis Fed President Bullard:
    ‘Not seeing’ financial stability risks rising from Fed policy
    Recovery ‘already looks strong’
    If ‘we play our cards right’ Fed might be able to move inflation above target during post-pandemic ‘boom’
    Will look to leadership from Chair Powell about when to start QE tapering discussion. It’s too early in the midst of pandemic

    Helmholtz Watson

    Fed’s Beige Book released March 3, 2021

    This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta based on information collected on or before February 22nd


    Economic activity expanded modestly from January to mid-February
    Reports on consumer spending and auto sales were mixed
    overall manufacturing activity for most Districts increased moderately from the previous report
    Commercial real estate conditions in the hotel, retail, and office sectors deteriorated somewhat
    Most Districts reported that employment levels rose over the reporting period, albeit slowly
    Several Districts reported modest wage increases for high-demand positions with many also noting upward pressure on wages to attract and retain employees
    Nonlabor input costs rose moderately over the reporting period, with steel and lumber prices increasing notably
    Reports on pricing power were mixed, with some retailers and manufacturers affected by input cost increases reporting the ability to pass prices through, while many others were unable to raise prices
    Several Districts reported anticipating modest price increases over the next several months

    Highlights by Federal Reserve District

    Economic activity remained mixed in the First District, with strong performance at manufacturers and ongoing weakness at hospitality outlets. Labor markets were tight for skilled workers. Manufacturers faced new upward pressures on input prices. Single-family home sales increased further. Contacts in the restaurant and hotel industries expressed a more optimistic outlook.

    New York
    The regional economy declined modestly, with particular weakness in the service sector. The labor market has remained sluggish, though wage growth accelerated. Businesses reported further acceleration in prices, as well as increasingly widespread supply disruptions. Contacts across a wide variety of sectors expressed increased optimism about the near-term outlook.

    Business activity rebounded to a modest pace of growth during the current Beige Book period. COVID-19 cases waned and restrictions eased, but economic disruptions continued. On the whole, activity remained below levels attained prior to the pandemic. Employment rebounded – growing slightly – as wage growth and prices picked up to modest and moderate paces, respectively.

    The District’s economy regained momentum, reflecting declining numbers of coronavirus infections and various fiscal support measures. That said, activity remains below prepandemic levels for most firms, and supply chain disruptions restrained output for many firms. Such disruptions also led to sizable increases in nonlabor costs. Hiring activity remained modest, although a greater share of firms reported they were raising wages.

    The regional economy continued to grow modestly. Manufacturing activity picked up, as did port and trucking transportation. Travel and tourism also rose in recent weeks. Retail sales, on the other hand, declined. The housing market remained strong and commercial real estate leasing rose modestly. Employment increased slightly while wages were little changed. Prices increased moderately in recent weeks.

    Economic activity expanded modestly. Labor market conditions improved, and wage pressure was subdued. Some nonlabor costs rose. Retail spending was steady. Tourism and hospitality activity rose slightly. Residential real estate demand increased, and home prices rose. Commercial real estate conditions were mixed. Manufacturing activity improved. Conditions at financial institutions were stable.

    Economic activity in the Seventh District increased modestly. Manufacturing and consumer spending increased moderately; business spending and construction and real estate increased slightly; and employment was little changed. Wages and prices rose modestly. Financial conditions were little changed. Contacts expected agricultural income to be solid in 2021.

    St. Louis
    Reports from contacts indicate that economic conditions have been generally unchanged since our previous report. Overall, the outlook among contacts continued to improve and is generally optimistic. Contacts noted a high degree of uncertainty about the pace of recovery, which they linked to vaccine rollout and efficacy.

    District economic activity increased modestly. Hiring demand rose, but employment growth remained flat, likely due to labor supply constraints and workers’ hope of being rehired by previous employers. Manufacturers expected a recent uptick in business to carry forward, while construction and real estate were seeing hot-and-cold activity across the District. Conditions for minority- and women-owned businesses remained difficult.

    Kansas City
    Economic activity expanded slightly, with gains in most sectors. Stronger retail, restaurant, and healthcare sales drove consumer spending higher in January, but consumers pulled back in February. Activity rose in the manufacturing, professional and high-tech services, wholesale trade, residential real estate, energy, and agriculture sectors. Contacts were generally optimistic about future growth, driven in part by the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

    The District economy expanded at a moderate pace, though output in most industries remained below normal levels. Unprecedented winter storms and widespread power outages in mid-February severely disrupted economic activity, though the impact is mostly expected to be transitory. The housing market continued to be a bright spot, and energy activity improved further. Employment rose and wages increased moderately. Outlooks were generally positive, but uncertainty persisted.

    San Francisco
    Economic activity in the District expanded at a modest pace as labor markets deteriorated somewhat. Wages and inflation picked up. Retail sales improved, but activity in the services sector declined moderately due to ongoing pandemic-related restrictions. Conditions in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors strengthened modestly. Residential construction and lending activity continued to be strong.

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