Pubblicato in: Banche Centrali, Stati Uniti, Trump

Fed. Beige Book. Le imprese stentano a trovare personale.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-07-19.

FED 001

La Fed ha pubblicato il Beige Book di Luglio.

«Economic activity continued to expand across the United States, with 10 of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts reporting moderate or modest growth. The outliers were the Dallas District, which reported strong growth driven in part by the energy sector, and the St. Louis District where growth was described as slight. Manufacturers in all Districts expressed concern about tariffs and in many Districts reported higher prices and supply disruptions that they attributed to the new trade policies. All Districts reported that labor markets were tight and many said that the inability to find workers constrained growth. Consumer spending was up in all Districts with particular strength in Dallas and Richmond. Contacts reported higher input prices and shrinking margins. Six Districts specifically mentioned trucking capacity as an issue and attributed it to a shortage of commercial drivers. Contacts in several Districts reported slow growth in existing home sales but were not overly concerned about rising interest rates. Commercial real estate was largely unchanged.»

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«Employment continued to rise at a modest to moderate pace in most Districts. Labor markets were described as tight, with most Districts reporting firms had difficulty finding qualified labor. Shortages were cited across a wide range of occupations, including highly skilled engineers, specialized construction and manufacturing workers, IT professionals, and truck drivers; some Districts indicated labor shortages were constraining growth. Districts noted firms were adding work hours, strengthening retention efforts, partnering with local schools, and converting temporary workers to permanent, as well as raising compensation to attract and retain employees. On balance, wage increases were modest to moderate, with some differences across sectors; a couple of Districts cited a pickup in the pace of wage growth.»

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Il report è molto dettagliato, distretto per distretto.

Di rilevanza federale emergono alcuni elementi.

– Il sistema economico è in crescita: “Economic activity continued to expand across the United States, with 10 of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts reporting moderate or modest growth”

– “Commercial real estate was largely unchanged”

– “Employment continued to rise at a modest to moderate pace in most Districts”

– “most Districts reporting firms had difficulty finding qualified labor”

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Il tasso di occupazione è così alto e quello di disoccupazione così basso, che molte aziende hanno difficoltà a trovare lavoratori qualificati. Sono il segno inequivocabile del buono stato di salute del sistema economico.

Questi due dati sembrerebbero essere di particolare importanza. Infatti, all’interno dei numerosi indici econometrici, il numero degli occupati e quello dei disoccupati hanno la caratteristica di essere facili da raccogliere senza incorrere in particolari errori, e non sono il frutto di calcoli intermedi.

Fed. Beige Book – July 18. 2018.

This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston based on information collected on or before July 9, 2018. This document summarizes comments received from contacts outside the Federal Reserve System and is not a commentary on the views of Federal Reserve officials.

Overall Economic Activity

wconomic activity continued to expand across the United States, with 10 of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts reporting moderate or modest growth. The outliers were the Dallas District, which reported strong growth driven in part by the energy sector, and the St. Louis District where growth was described as slight. Manufacturers in all Districts expressed concern about tariffs and in many Districts reported higher prices and supply disruptions that they attributed to the new trade policies. All Districts reported that labor markets were tight and many said that the inability to find workers constrained growth. Consumer spending was up in all Districts with particular strength in Dallas and Richmond. Contacts reported higher input prices and shrinking margins. Six Districts specifically mentioned trucking capacity as an issue and attributed it to a shortage of commercial drivers. Contacts in several Districts reported slow growth in existing home sales but were not overly concerned about rising interest rates. Commercial real estate was largely unchanged.

Employment and Wages

Employment continued to rise at a modest to moderate pace in most Districts. Labor markets were described as tight, with most Districts reporting firms had difficulty finding qualified labor. Shortages were cited across a wide range of occupations, including highly skilled engineers, specialized construction and manufacturing workers, IT professionals, and truck drivers; some Districts indicated labor shortages were constraining growth. Districts noted firms were adding work hours, strengthening retention efforts, partnering with local schools, and converting temporary workers to permanent, as well as raising compensation to attract and retain employees. On balance, wage increases were modest to moderate, with some differences across sectors; a couple of Districts cited a pickup in the pace of wage growth.

Prices
Prices increased in all Districts at a pace that was modest to moderate on average; reports showed upticks in inflation in several Districts. The prices of key inputs rose further, including fuel, construction materials, freight, and metals; a few Districts described these input price pressures as elevated or strong. Tariffs contributed to the increases for metals and lumber. However, the extent of pass-through from input to consumer prices remained slight to moderate. Movements in agricultural commodities prices were mixed across products and Districts. Pricing pressures are expected to intensify further moving forward in some Districts, while in others the outlook is for stable price increases at a modest to moderate pace.

Highlights by Federal Reserve District

Boston
Business activity continued to expand at a moderate pace, with contacted manufacturers, retailers, hotels, and software and IT firms reporting year-over-year increases in revenues. Some contacts saw higher prices and lower margins. Contacts reported difficulty hiring in skilled occupations.

New York

The regional economy continued to expand at a moderate pace, and labor markets have remained tight. Input price increases have remained fairly widespread, and selling prices continued to increase moderately. Housing markets have continued to firm, on balance, while commercial real estate markets have softened a bit.

Philadelphia
Economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace. With tightening labor markets, job growth also remained modest, but wages are now rising moderately. On balance, contacts continued to observe modest price increases with few concerns for future inflation. Notably, nonresidential construction activity has begun to decline from its prior high levels.

Cleveland
The District economy grew moderately. Labor markets tightened, with wage pressures noted broadly. Rising fuel and metals costs are pressuring manufacturers, construction firms, and transportation companies. Stronger confidence in the economy boosted demand in nonfinancial services and the retail sector. Construction activity remained strong.

Richmond
The regional economy grew at a moderate rate. Manufacturing and retail sales strengthened, but firms in both sectors faced transportation constraints and rising input costs. Trucking firms saw record demand, which was partially unmet due to the driver shortage. Port activity remained strong. Labor demand increased moderately, and some firms reported shortages. Price growth accelerated slightly but remained moderate, overall.

Atlanta
Economic activity modestly expanded since the previous report. The labor market remained tight. Reports of wage growth were mixed. Some commodity input prices continued to increase. Consumer spending improved since the last report. Nonresidential construction increased; however, multifamily construction showed signs of slowing. Manufacturing activity grew.

Chicago
Growth in economic activity slowed to a modest pace. Manufacturing production increased moderately, while employment, consumer spending, business spending, and construction and real estate activity grew modestly. Wages and prices increased modestly, and financial conditions improved modestly. The outlook for agriculture income dimmed some.

St. Louis

Economic conditions improved slightly. Labor market conditions remained tight and wage growth was modest. Local contacts reported robust increases in shipping costs across all sectors due to higher fuel prices and driver shortages. Businesses’ reports on the impact of tariffs have varied by industry.

Minneapolis
Economic activity in the Ninth District grew moderately, led by strong growth in manufacturing. Hiring demand remained strong, but workers were harder to find. Wages grew moderately with some signs of stronger growth among union wages. Professional services firms saw growth across the board, and lodging demand appeared robust heading into the summer tourism season.

Kansas City

Economic activity expanded moderately since the previous survey, and growth was expected to continue in the months ahead. Most sectors expanded, including a slight pickup in energy activity, modestly higher consumer spending and business services, moderately stronger real estate activity, and continued robust gains in the manufacturing sector. Capital spending plans across the District were positive.

Dallas
Economic activity continued to grow at a solid pace. Manufacturing output rose, and broad-based expansion in the services and energy sectors continued. Retail spending rose while drought conditions became more widespread. Hiring remained solid despite a tight labor market, and wage and price pressures stayed elevated. Expectations regarding future business activity were optimistic, although uncertainty arising from U.S. trade policy weighed on outlooks.

San Francisco

Economic activity in the Twelfth District continued to expand at a moderate pace. Conditions in the labor market remained tight, and price inflation increased moderately. Sales of retail goods picked up slightly, and activity in the consumer and business services sectors edged down. Activity in the manufacturing sector and in residential and commercial real estate markets was solid. Lending activity ticked up moderately.

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Summary of Economic Activity

First District economic activity continued to expand at a moderate pace, with nearly all responding retailers, manufacturers, hospitality providers, and software and IT firms citing year-over-year increases in sales and revenues in recent weeks. Residential real estate markets saw price increases but fewer closed sales although contacts reported higher listings and expected higher sales in the future. Commercial real estate markets were generally expanding, although growth in retail was mixed. Hotels reported slower growth which they attributed to the expansion of on-line short term rentals. Contacts across a range of industries said trucking capacity continued to be a major issue. Overall, the outlook continued to be positive. Contacts expressed concerns about tariffs but none cited trade issues as affecting demand or hiring and capital expenditure plans.

Employment and Wages

Many responding firms have done some hiring; most reported tight labor markets and modest increases in pay. Retail contacts reported that labor supply was tight and one contact said labor costs were up 10 percent over the previous year. All surveyed manufacturers were hiring or maintaining current levels of employment. Manufacturing contacts said the labor market was tight, but the exceptional difficulties were mostly in highly skilled areas like engineering. Labor shortages continued to be an issue in the hospitality industry, particularly in seasonal destinations like Cape Cod. Contacts in the software and information technology areas expressed concerns about restrictive immigration policies.

Prices
Most respondents reported modest increases in prices. Although contacts were concerned about the effect of tariffs, none of our contacts reported any material impact so far. Higher freight costs continued to be an issue across a wide array of industries, with the shortage of commercial truck drivers being cited as an important factor. Several manufacturing contacts said that they were only able to pass through a portion of the higher costs to customers. As a result, margins were declining. House prices continued to rise throughout the region.

Retail and Tourism

The retailers consulted for this round reported recent comparable-store sales gains ranging from 3 percent to 10 percent year-over-year. One firm noted that higher freight costs contributed to higher overhead costs and that a shortage of workers led to a 10 percent increase in labor costs compared to a year ago. Despite these higher operating costs, the retail outlook for the rest of the year remains positive, provided that consumer sentiment does not abate.

Two travel industry sources reported that business was either flat or slightly down in late May, but appeared to have rebounded strongly in June. Both contacts reported that traditional lodging providers, such as hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments, were encountering increased competition from online platforms offering short-term rentals. This shift in consumer preferences was expected to continue. Labor shortages continued to be a concern, and in places like the Outer Cape, the average hourly wage for some low-skilled hospitality workers was reportedly about $20 per hour. Through May, domestic travel to Boston is up 8.1 percent year-over-year, while international travel is up 7.1 percent year-over-year. The outlook is positive, but there was some concern that escalating trade tensions could put a damper on international tourism to the United States.

Manufacturing and Related Services

Of nine firms we contacted this cycle, all but one reported higher sales. The one exception was a toy manufacturer and our contact said that the weakness was expected and attributable to the closure of a major toy retailer. While several contacts expressed concern about the effect of the trade war on sales, none reported any sales declines as a result. Four of our contacts said that costs were rising faster than sales revenue. Rising costs were attributed to raw material prices and a lack of trucking capacity. One contact in the container industry said that they had planned to increase output and hire additional workers but had not because of delays in the delivery of new capital equipment.

Software and Information Technology Services

Software and IT contacts in the First District continued to see activity expanding steadily. Revenue was up 3 percent to 10 percent year-over-year in the first half of the year. Several noted increases in margins, despite some seasonal sluggishness in demand. Contacts attributed growth in margins to internal productivity improvements. Firms across the sector expressed concern about acquiring and retaining talent in the tech industry. Further, contacts unanimously expressed anxiety about shocks to the broader economy, such as the potential for changes in trade, tariffs, immigration, war, and the stock market. Firms do not expect changes in headcounts or wages in the short-run, but some noted upcoming and potential capital investments. Overall, contacts felt positive about their progress thus far and optimistic about the rest of the year.

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate market conditions were described as stable or improving in recent weeks. Although mixed across locations and property types, activity levels on balance were moderate to robust. Boston area contacts described the city’s office market as strong by historical standards, with low and falling vacancy rates, robust rents that increased slightly, and record-high sales prices for select buildings. Industrial leasing activity in the Boston area was seen as stable, although one contact reported that sales demand for warehouse space near Boston surged on the expectation of rising tenant demand. In Providence office leasing activity was steady at a moderate pace amid falling vacancy rates and rising rents, but industrial leasing activity was hampered by that market’s 1 percent vacancy rate. Construction activity across multiple property types maintained a strong pace in Boston and Providence, and increased further in the Portland area, but remained scant in the Hartford area. Contacts expect stable or improving commercial real estate activity moving forward, although most cited downside risks, such as rising interest rates, trade wars, and local labor shortages.

Residential Real Estate

Entering the summer, the residential real estate market in the First District continued to display a sellers’ market environment, highlighting high demand and increasing prices. Closed sales were down in all reporting areas but pending sales increased. Contacts cited insufficient inventory as the reason for the drop in sales but remained optimistic about the outlook on the heels of strong buyer demand and increasing new listings. A representative from Rhode Island noted that “Competition is fierce and buyers are finding themselves in a race to the finish line. Inventory is so tight that properties are being sold as soon as they go on the market, often in multiple bid situations.” Median sales price increased in all areas but Vermont. Contacts expressed concerns about the rapid price appreciation as many potential buyers were priced out of the market. Contacts said that borrowers, despite high prices and changes to the tax code, were still willing and able to finance purchases.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Summary of Economic Activity

Economic activity in the Second District has continued to expand at a moderate pace since the last report. The labor market has remained tight, while wage growth has mostly stayed steady. Input price increases have remained fairly widespread, and consumer price inflation continued to run a bit higher than earlier this year. Activity in the manufacturing and distribution industries grew at a fairly brisk pace, while growth in most service industries has been more subdued. Consumer spending has been steady to up slightly in recent weeks, with tourism remaining fairly robust. Housing markets have been somewhat stronger, on balance, while commercial real estate markets have generally softened. Finally, banks reported continued growth in loan demand and little change in delinquency rates.

Employment and Wages

The labor market has remained tight across the District. Businesses reported particular trouble filling senior positions and finding technically skilled workers, especially in IT. One business contact observed that almost all job-seekers are already employed. A New York City employment agency noted that clients have had difficulty adjusting to a city law prohibiting prospective employers from asking about salary history or using it as a guide to compensating new hires.

Hiring activity has been steady overall but mixed by industry. Business contacts in manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and finance reported a pickup in hiring activity, while those engaged in information and professional & business services noted some pullback in hiring. Contacts in the transportation industry noted further shrinkage in their workforce. Separately, a payroll service firm observed that job growth at small businesses has slowed somewhat recently. A major utility firm remarked that devoting more resources to vocational training and building relationships with local high schools and colleges, has made it easier for them to fill job openings.

Wage growth has generally remained steady overall but somewhat more brisk than last year. Wages were reported to be flat in the education & health and transportation sectors but rising in other sectors. The most widespread gains were reported in retail & wholesale trade and leisure & hospitality.

Prices
Businesses reported ongoing widespread hikes in input prices. The most widespread increases were in retail & wholesale trade, education & health, and real estate. Manufacturers and leisure & hospitality firms noted some diminution in input price pressures since the prior report. Contacts in almost all sectors anticipated further increases in the months ahead.

As for selling prices, wholesalers continued to report widespread price hikes, and businesses in leisure & hospitality and real estate noted some acceleration. Prices for Broadway theater tickets rose fairly sharply in June and were up nearly 15 percent from a year earlier. Retail contacts noted somewhat less discounting than a year ago, resulting in a modest hike in effective selling prices. Similarly, auto dealers reported some increase in average used car prices and fewer incentive offers on new vehicles. Businesses in other industries reported that prices were mostly stable. Looking ahead, a sizable share of firms in leisure & hospitality, wholesale trade, and real estate said they anticipate price hikes.

Consumer Spending

Retail sales were steady to up slightly in May and June running roughly on plan. A major retail chain noted that sales were on plan and up modestly from a year earlier, with New York City stores continuing to post relatively strong results, in good part driven by tourism.

New vehicle sales in upstate New York were soft in May and June, continuing to run short of year-earlier levels. Sales of used cars have been more robust and continued to rise modestly. Vehicle inventories remained at or above desired levels. Dealers indicated that retail and wholesale credit conditions remained in good shape.

Consumer confidence in the Middle Atlantic states (NY, NJ, PA) edged up to a cyclical high in June, led by an historically positive assessment of the job market.

Manufacturing and Distribution

Both manufacturers and wholesale distributors indicated that activity continued to expand at a brisk pace since the last report. Transportation firms reported more subdued growth. Regarding the near-term business outlook, contacts in the wholesale and transportation sectors continued to express widespread optimism. Manufacturers remained optimistic, on balance, but have become less so than earlier in the year. A number of manufacturing contacts remarked that tariffs have raised their costs. Moreover, uncertainty about future trade policy was cited as a major concern, particularly in parts of upstate New York, where there is substantial trade with Canada.

Services
Service-sector firms continued to report minimal to modest growth in activity. Contacts in professional & business services, education & health, and leisure & hospitality indicated modest growth, while those in the information industry continued to report flat activity. Looking ahead, leisure & hospitality businesses remained glum about near-term prospects, but contacts in the other service industries expressed fairly broad optimism.

Tourism has been fairly robust in recent weeks. New York City hotels reported a moderate pickup in both occupancy rates and revenues. Similarly, Broadway theaters reported a modest pickup in attendance and a marked pickup in revenues, which were up roughly 16 percent from a year earlier in May and June.

Real Estate and Construction

Housing markets across the District have been mixed but, on balance, somewhat stronger since the last report. Across much of the District, a limited supply of homes on the market has restrained sales activity and boosted prices. The market in the Buffalo metro area has been particularly robust, with strong demand and lean inventories driving up prices and producing many bidding wars. One exception to this trend has been the Manhattan co-op and condo market, where inventories have risen, sales activity has receded, and prices have been flat to modestly lower–partly attributed to some drop-off in investor purchases and foreign buyers. In and around New York City, the high end of the sales market continues to lag. One industry contact surmised that more limited deductibility of homeowner costs under the new tax law has been a factor in restraining demand.

The apartment rental market has been mixed. Effective rents are flat to down modestly across New York City, though demand for larger rental apartments has picked up recently–reportedly reflecting both rent reductions and a shift away from homeownership. In northern New Jersey, upstate New York, and the suburbs around New York City, however, demand has been robust and rents have continued to trend up moderately.

Commercial real estate markets have been steady to softer. Office availability rates were steady to up slightly, and asking rents continued to drift down across downstate New York, though they have risen modestly across northern New Jersey and upstate New York. The market for retail space continued to slacken, except in upstate New York, where vacancy rates were steady and rents were up moderately from a year ago. The industrial market continued to strengthen in northern New Jersey but has stabilized elsewhere across the District.

New multi-family construction starts have been steady to somewhat weaker. Office construction has picked up slightly across upstate New York but has remained moribund across the rest of the District. New industrial development has slowed as well. While new construction–both residential and commercial–has been sluggish, ongoing construction activity has remained strong.

Banking and Finance

Small to medium-sized banks in the District reported increased demand for consumer loans, residential mortgages, and commercial mortgages, but no change in demand for C&I loans and refinancing activity. Bankers reported tightening credit standards for commercial loans and mortgages. Banks noted an increase in the average deposit rate and narrowing loan spreads across all categories. Finally, banks reported lower delinquency rates for C&I loans but no change in delinquencies across all other loan categories.

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