Pace of U.S. Recovery Picked Up This Fall, Fed's Beige Book Says
By Paul Kiernan
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy's recovery picked up to a "modest
or moderate" pace this fall, while growth began to slow in November
in parts of the Midwest and Northeast as coronavirus cases
proliferated, a Federal Reserve report said Wednesday.
The Fed's periodic compilation of anecdotes from business
contacts, known as the Beige Book, said the expansion continued in
most of the central bank's 12 districts across the country. But
four regional Fed branches reported "little or no growth," and four
noted that activity began to slow in early November.
"Firms' outlooks remained positive; however, optimism has waned"
the report said. "Many contacts cited concerns over the recent
pandemic wave, mandated restrictions (recent and prospective), and
the looming expiration dates for unemployment benefits and for
moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures."
The Fed's previous Beige Book report characterized economic
growth in the early fall as at a "slight to modest" pace.
Banks reported deterioration in loan portfolios -- particularly
commercial lending to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses --
and expectations of an uptick in delinquencies became more
widespread, the Beige Book added.
Wednesday's report, for which the Fed collected comments on or
before Nov. 20, is the latest sign the U.S. and global economic
growth could be tempered by the pandemic as winter settles in. The
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday
cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth in 2021 to 3.2% from 4%,
and its forecasts for the eurozone to 3.6% from 5.1%.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday described the economic
outlook in coming months as challenging, with a brighter outlook
"Sometime in the middle of next year it really does look like
that may be the light at the end of the tunnel -- we all hope so --
and that the economy could be very healthy," Mr. Powell said in a
congressional hearing. "The problem is people who lose their homes
now, or businesses that go out of business. These are sometimes
small businesses that have generations of human capital built up in
their activities, and once they're gone they can't just be
Write to Paul Kiernan at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 02, 2020 16:04 ET (21:04 GMT)
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