Fed Beige Book Survey: U.S. Economy Picked Up at End of Year

Fed survey: U.S. economy picked up at end of yearBy MARTIN CRUTSINGER

WASHINGTON (AP) - Holiday shopping, strong auto sales and a recovering housing market helped boost the U.S. economy from the middle of November through early January, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.

The Fed said 12 of its regional banking districts reported "modest or moderate" growth in the final weeks of 2012. Of those, only St. Louis said growth had slowed from the previous survey, which covered October through early November.

Consumers increased spending at the end of the year in every district. Auto sales were steady or stronger in 10 districts. Home sales increased in nine districts. And home building expanded in all but one.

Still, employers in some parts of the country delayed hiring because of uncertainty over the fiscal cliff. Congress and the White House reached a deal on Jan. 1 to prevent sharp income tax increases from hitting most Americans. But they put off decisions on government spending cuts.

The report, called the Beige Book, provides anecdotal information on economic conditions through Jan. 4. The information collected by the regional banks will be used as the basis for the Fed's policy discussion at the Jan. 29-30 meeting.

Many economists believe the Fed will take no new steps at that meeting.

The Fed last month said it planned to keep its key short-term interest rate at a record low even after unemployment falls close to a normal level - which it said might take three more years. And it said it would keep buying $85 billion a month in Treasurys and mortgage bonds to try to keep borrowing costs low and encourage more spending.

The economy has shown some signs of improvement in recent months. But unemployment remains high at 7.8 percent.

Job growth has been modest but steady. In December, employers added 155,000 jobs, roughly matching the monthly average in 2011 and 2012.

Wage growth has been weak. But at the same time, consumers are seeing little inflation.

Retail spending grew in December from November, led by higher sales of cars, furniture and clothing. Still, many consumers are likely to pull back on spending at the start of the year because lawmakers and President Barack Obama allowed a two-year reduction in Social Security payroll taxes to lapse.

Most Americans will start seeing less money in their paychecks this month. A person earning $50,000 a year will see take-home pay shrink by roughly $1,000 in 2013. That's likely to slow consumer spending and weigh on overall economic growth.

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Big John

If the Speaker of the House is in charge of policy and the economy would you please tell me why Bohner has not fixed everything in the last two years and why the Republicans want the White House so badly?

January 18 2013 at 2:07 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Big John's comment
democrackso

Well little John. Ask Harry Reid why he blocks everything that comes out of the House. Well well well little John so you admit that it was Pelosi's fault that the economy collapsed in 2008 and that Pelosi and Harry Reid handed Obama the collpased economy in 2009. Glad you finally realize that too.

January 18 2013 at 7:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

Somey seems grouchy these days. How unfortunate for him.

January 17 2013 at 7:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

somey5
"Did you "hear" someone calling themself Nancy Pelosi?"

You most certainly call yourself Nancy Pelosi in your comments
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Darling where do you see the word Nancy Pelosi in any of my comments? You really do need to contact your sponsor. You seem to be having a bad day dear. How unfortunate for you.

January 17 2013 at 7:37 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

somey5
So your foreman allows to to text all day????????????????

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Darling does your free cell phone allow you to text dear. Or don't you get enough foodstamps to sell to cover that extra cost dear?

January 17 2013 at 4:31 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

somey5
Look at you you’re completely detached from reality, thinking and calling yourself Nancy Pelosi. If anything your schizophrenia is getting worse all the time, and I would advise to take your meds.

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Oh my how unfortunate for you Somey. Did you "hear" someone calling themself Nancy Pelosi? Perhaps when you get your meds refilled you could ask the pharmacist to give you something to help you with the voices you are hearing in your head darling. Does your medicaid cover that dear? Perhaps you could check with your case worker darling.

January 17 2013 at 4:28 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

Oh my how unfortunate. My liberal friend with 50 screen names is voting all my comments down. He must have spent up his entire welfare check already and has nothing else better to do darlings.

January 17 2013 at 1:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
TINKDAY

Maybe the economy seemed to pick up at the end of the year, because of the holidays and everyone is paying substantialy more for everything and the Fed keeps buying more worhtless securities, putting more money, that it does not have into the economy.

January 17 2013 at 1:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

rostra
Unfortunately, the recession began in 2005 when the real estate market collapsed. This after two stock market crashes, and an economy built upon a house of cards, people buying home they could not afford, hoping to flip them before the balloon payment became due. Glad to see you have a sense of humor about Pelosi, to bad she's worth over 100 million, and gaining, while you toil away your days on the internet

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Rostra darling.

Thanks for pointing out that I am one of those evil rich people that we liberals despise. It is so nice to see you here spending your day toiling away on the internet while I bask in my wealth and live a life a luxury darling . Yes dear I am increasing my wealth. Were you fishing for some insider trading tips?

I know it was unfortunate the we democrats pushed for everyone to own a home even if they couldn't afford it. My dear dear friend Maxine Waters said in the heart of the mortgage crisis that we should have done more to get people into affordable homes which in reality they couldn't afford. The economy really did start going down hill when I was peaker dear. Please do not short change me on the credit for that. Thank you so much for bringing all of this up dear. I am so glad I was able to clear a few things up for you darling.

January 17 2013 at 12:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mrspelosi's comment
janeswizzle

What possed you to make a statement that Unemployment creates jobs, and helps to pay down the deficit? Too many botox injections that day perhaps ?

January 17 2013 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to janeswizzle's comment
janeswizzle

Possessed ...typo

January 17 2013 at 1:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
mrspelosi

Darling I can not believe you would even ask me a question like that. Have you ever listened to me during an interview. I stammer and babble incoherently and most everything I say makes no sense at all. I am known for making outrageous, outlandish, and utterly ridiculous statements doll.

January 17 2013 at 1:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down
janeswizzle

Where do I buy some of these rose colored glasses these journalists are wearing?

January 17 2013 at 12:37 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to janeswizzle's comment
janeswizzle

Oh thank you so much. I'm a registered Republican can I still qualify ?

January 17 2013 at 12:49 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
janeswizzle

I don't believe this hogwash for one minute. The real truth is watching people struggle to find a job other than "Hey would like just the sandwich or the combo meal." 7.8 % unemployment according to "the labor stats" more than likely it's about 21%. Not everyone can afford rose colored glasses.

January 17 2013 at 12:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply