Wednesday, March 5, 2008

First reports of negative growth

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System released the latest installment of its Beige Book, a summary of economic reports from the 12 districts that make up the system. The Beige Book gives an early look at economic conditions around the country. The current report is very downbeat:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that economic growth has slowed since the beginning of the year. Two-thirds of the Districts cited softening or weakening in the pace of business activity, while the others referred to subdued, slow, or modest growth.

While the report avoids the "R" word, it should be noted that the last two reports have cited ever-slowing growth and GDP growth over the period covered by those reports was an anemic 0.6 percent. Further slowing strongly suggests that the country has tipped from net growth to net decline.

Other indicators from the economy are also downbeat. Indicators for manufacturing and service sector conditions showed declines last month, and two private job reports also showed declines.