Banking conditions ‘subdued,’ Beige Book reports, pointing to ‘softened’ lending

Describing banking conditions across as the nation as “mostly subdued,” the Federal Reserve released its July Beige Book Wednesday, which also described construction as slightly down.

The Beige Book, a compilation of economic reports from each of the Fed’s 12 districts, is published eight times a year. It summarizes comments received from outside the Federal Reserve System and, the Fed notes, is not a reflection of the views of agency officials. It collects information from a variety of business and nonbusiness sources.

The latest report was based on information collected on or before June 30, the Fed said.

The report attributes “subdued” banking conditions to lending activity that has “continued to soften.” On the other hand, the report stated, demand for residential real estate remained steady despite higher mortgage lending rates. Sales, though, were constrained by low inventories, the report stated.

Construction for both residential and commercial units was slightly lower on balance, the Beige Book reported.

Regarding labor, the report stated that employers continued to have difficulty finding workers, particularly in health care, transportation, and hospitality, and for high-skilled positions in general. However, many Reserve Bank Districts reported that labor availability had improved and that some employers were having an easier time hiring than they were having previously.

On prices, the report stated that they had increased at a modest pace, with some districts noting a slowing pace of increase. “Price expectations were generally stable or lower over the next several months,” the report stated.

Beige Book – July 12, 2023