Beige Book Blues: Holiday Edition

Earlier today, the Federal Reserve issued their eighth and final Beige Book report of 2008 (PDF here), finding, as you might expect, that economic conditions are weakening across the nation in virtually all sectors of the economy. Here is a quick recap of the dreary news in District II, which includes all of New York, northern New Jersey and a tiny sliver of Connecticut.

– Same store retail sales in October and early November are down 5 to 10 percent from last year, and may have been worse had it not been for unseasonably cold weather in November that boosted winter apparel sales.

– In October, hotel revenues fell 10 percent on the year, indicative of drops in both occupancy rates and room rates.

– Prices on Manhattan co-op and condo have fallen 15 to 20 percent since mid-summer. Sales are down too, and as the report glumly notes, “much of the recent activity is reportedly from desperate sellers.”

– New Jersey’s home sales market is performing poorly, with local experts pointing toward a dormant new development market and a 20 to 25 percent decline in selling prices compared to one year ago.

– With a slowdown in commercial leases, vacancy rates in Manhattan rose by more than half a point in October. Also, rents are lower and more tenants are requesting (and being granted) short-term renewals.

– The demand for residential mortgages is weakening, according to bankers, who are also reporting, “Widespread increases in delinquency rates across all loan categories.”

Happy Holidays!

Beige Book Blues: Holiday Edition