Beige Book Decelerates As Delta Impact Widens

Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve updated its twice-quarterly qualitative assessment of the economy based on conversations with business contacts across the twelve regional districts. For each Beige Book release, we apply a natural language processing algorithm to assess the relative frequency of positive versus negative words, giving us a quantitative comparison of Beige Books over time. As shown in the chart below, our index of Beige Book activity has fallen from record levels recorded back in June to elevated but much more modest levels in September. That’s consistent with the Fed’s description of “moderate” growth thanks to the impact of the Delta variant.  

In the second chart below, we show the relationship between GDP growth and our Beige Book Index from above. As shown, the current reading of our index equates to GDP growth of a bit less than 4% YoY. But keep in mind that extreme base effects are still driving wild YoY GDP readings. With that in mind, the Beige Book Index appears to be showing above-trend but decelerating growth, when accounting for base effects of the extremely low GDP reading from Q2 of 2020.

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