World Economy Indicators

13 June 2003

• The latest ‘beige book’ state-of-the-nation study from the Federal Reserve suggests US economic conditions may be improving.

Four of the central bank’s twelve districts reported heightened economic activity since the last survey in April, while none of the other eight recorded decline.

However, the Fed preached caution, warning that activity is largely “sluggish, subpar or subdued”. Downward pressure on prices and wages has increased, while consumer spending in May was down on the same month last year.

Separately, new Commerce Department figures show that retail sales climbed 0.1% in May compared with the previous month, following April’s 0.3% decline.

• In the UK, fears over the state of the economy intensified with news that the number of unemployment benefit claimants jumped by 9,700 last month to 950,800. This is the biggest monthly gain since 1992.

• There was also disappointing news from Germany, where new government figures show that industrial production declined by 1% between March and April. The worse-than-expected results left analysts speculating that significant recovery may not be possible until next year.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff