WASHINGTON — The study of economic conditions the Federal Reserve Board released Wednesday gave little hope that the housing and financial crisis will end soon.
The Fed's study, known as the "Beige Book," used terms such as "decidedly morose," "bleak," and "quieter still" to describe the housing and financial sectors. In recent weeks loan demand was off in the New York, Kansas City, and San Francisco districts, and it was characterized as "sluggish" in the Philadelphia district.
Bankers reported deteriorating loan quality in the Philadelphia, Richmond, San Francisco, and New York districts and said they were tightening loan standards in response. A lending officer in Philadelphia said his bank was "tightening standards across the board." Another banker there reported "paring back loan-to-value ratios." In New York, no bankers said they were easing their standards on loans.
The news was mixed on the funding front.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said competition for deposits was "very tough," and the Cleveland Fed said deposits were steady or increasing "as a result of a flight to safety by investors."
The study also indicated that banks are preparing for a drawn-out period of instability. "Compared with the last report, contacts are less optimistic that market conditions will improve by year's end," the Boston Fed found.
Even areas that have not experienced the worst of the market turmoil are hunkering down. The Dallas Fed said declining loan quality had not yet hit its district, but "banks expected deterioration in the coming months, especially for residential real estate and consumer loans."