Is Anyone Surprised at an Ugly Beige Book?

This morning, I gently mocked those economists who were (gasp!) surprised that Retail Sales in December stunk.

Which brings us to the Fed’s Beige Book. Can anyone be surprised it was ugly?

Peter Bookvar adds:

The Fed’s Beige Book was downbeat as expected in all areas of the economy and instead of just stating the obvious comments, here is some commentary on banking and finance in light of the debate in DC on the 2nd half of the TARP and issue of lending out the money. “Most districts indicated that lending activity continued to decline or remained weak, and many Districts reported that credit conditions remained tight or tightened further.”

Demand for C&I loans were mixed as was demand for consumer loans. Some districts noted an increase in refi activity. Boston reported that credit availability continues to be a major barrier to CRE activity and SF noted that that the availability of credit remains quite constrained. Comments on housing were of course downbeat and an area that saw an uptick in sales was driven by foreclosures and short sales.

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