The ‘Beige Book’ is a beige covered book released by each of the 12 Fed banks around the country 8 times a year and it focus on anecdotal stories instead of data. This year the Minneapolis Fed added two new entries: (these rarely get updated) worker experience – traditionally the focus is on business feedback – & Women & Minority Owned businesses. Economists learned by surveying actual workers that part of the reason employers are unable to fill positions is many of these shifts are 12 hr shifts and many workers cannot take these shifts without childcare or public transit options. Also of note in this release of the Beige book, some regions fear that inflation will not be transitory like Fed Chair Powell has been explaining.
Rates – mortgage rates improved slightly this week as the price of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) increased, ending the week between the 25 and 50 day moving average. Interest rates are down 1/4% from this time last year.
Jobs – the number of people filing for initial unemployment insurance dropped below 600,000 for the first time since Covid. While encouraging, this number is still over 2.5X pre-covid levels and there are a total of 17M folks receiving some type of benefits (pre-covid 2m).
Inflation – the Consumer Price Index increased 0.6% from the previous month and 2.6% on a year over year basis. If you strip out the more volatile food and energy prices the year over year number is 1.6% (Up 0.3% from the previous reading).
Mortgage Application volume decreased by 3.7% on a week over week basis. Purchases are up 51% year over year and refinances are down 31% over the same time frame.