America’s consumers perk up yet recovery is still slow and bumpy

CONSUMER spending increased slightly in most US Federal Reserve Districts, according to the central bank’s latest Beige Book, published last night.

Published eight times a year, yesterday’s edition highlighted the risks facing the US economy as activity slowed in several regions.

Economic uncertainty is blamed for reduced forecasts across the country, and New York suffered especially because of Hurricane Irene. Car sales have been knocked by lingering supply disruptions following tsunami in Japan in March.

“Economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace, though some districts noted mixed or weakening activity,” the Fed said in its collection of anecdotal reports of economic conditions in 12 American districts.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans heightened expectations of more quantitative easing in a speech yesterday. “Conditions aren’t much different from a recession,” he said, fearing that unemployment will remain at 9.1 per cent “for some time”.

“We need to take strong action now,” Evans told the European Economics and Financial Centre in London.