The Indicator from Planet Money - The Beigies: Traffic Jam At The Ports

The economy might be down, but Americans are buying a lot of stuff right now. Today on the show, we break it down and pick our favorite economic story from the Beige Book.

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Content Keywords: best Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia base book truck news Stacy
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everyone Stacy here and I am joined today by our wonderful editor Patty Hirsch. He Patty.

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Have you will it it's been a very big week with a lot of big stories. But of course some of the biggest story is the the the new base book truck this week.

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Are most people around the indicator this was very big news and I should explain what it is before we get any further about eight times a year the Federal Reserve publishes a report about the economy, which is called the summary of commentary on current economic conditions over a long title. Everybody just calls it the beige book because it's covers beige distinct districts is not just one thing is 12 things as Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, which represents most of the West and each of these districts contributes a chapter to the beige book chapters are little collections of anecdotes from businesses and industries all across the country everything from Big corporations to Mom and Pop shops and get these stories The Economist at these Regional Banks actually call up local businesses or just drop by and say like hey what's going on?

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Where's that they get from them are so great so good. They are the indicator. We have created an award for a favorite Bass Brook entry.

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Do the BET Awards brought to you by the indicator from Planet Money? I'm Stacey Vanek Smith and Patty Hearst today on the show Waco through the economic stories are rinds the country defines the good the bad. I'm the best of page.

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Welcome to the base Year awards for the first base book of 20 21 eight times a year. So normally the stories don't change that much. But right now things are moving very fast in this economy. And this latest Facebook was super interesting that we did not see in the last page book most Economist and businesses felt like the economy would really start to bounce back towards the end of this year people were seeing a light at the end of the tunnel light at the end of the tunnel, but it was a lot of pain travel and tourism Industries are decimated restaurants theaters. In other businesses are really struggling to survive that really struck Us in this Facebook was something that came to us when the federal bank Minneapolis Hotel owner in central Minnesota who had to close the hotel pool and stop his breakfast buffet service. He was quoted as saying why would anybody want to stay?

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Yes, there was a lot of pain but there were also some industries that were doing. Okay and some that were actually flourishing exports and imports really stood out for that reason the San Francisco fed and facts reported that shipments of almonds are at record highs only California's farmers are exporting wheat and reasons like crazy us the keenest insight into one part of the economy at The Reserve Bank of Boston looks tense. The Dallas fed Economist are all holding hands forward in anticipation.

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the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

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Economist Stone you were being turn off Waddell is accepting the baiji. She oversaw bridgemen Facebook entry. Thank you very much. We're very excited for this award really on the whole Patty this whole Andre from Richmond was fantastic Liberty. What was one paragraph? It is from the ports and transportation section shipping volume some more substantially above year-ago levels contacts reported increases in Furniture toys and produce Imports while meat and Grains were strong on the export side one contacts noted that the rush to get empty containers back to Asia for future shipments is limiting container availability for exports. So I ask Tony about this and she said this little paragraph tells us a lot about what is going on in the whole economy right? Now namely that goods are winning and services are

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Really struggling for a couple of years even a decade. There's a lot of discussion about consumers buying fewer Goods wanting more experiences. So I think you do in the last year we've done the exact opposite opposite to the extent that we were paying money for trips or new experiences. We've been spending that that money I'm good. Right? So we have a large portion of the population who can do their jobs from home and who have not seen and a hit to income and so who can take the money that they would have spend on the trip that they didn't take and and spend it on a Home Improvement or a new couch. This makes sense, right because of regulations and state guidelines and frankly just personal caution. We're really not spending money on services and experiences in the way that we used to eating lights and travel go to the theater getting a massage exercise classes. We really not doing that kind of thing so much.

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We're spending that money on stuff Furniture cookware clothing electronics and told me that she herself has been living this I will tell you when you're free to put this on the on the radio. I have not gotten a haircut since I might have in January of 2020 20 fill out. My hair is definitely getting long. I used to have bangs on your estimates that she would have gotten three haircuts in a normal year and you think how much your haircut can't Austin instead she got none so she got plenty of cash to spend nine. She and her husband splurge on a night door heater so that the family can hang out in the backyard throughout the winter. At least that was the plan they ordered.

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Heater back in November and it's still has not arrived and Mike Holman is pretty sure he knows why it's just a bottleneck. Mike is president of CB International. It's a shipping logistics company based in Virginia, right and Sonia's district. And Mike says the Bass Book Is Right on about his industry has the shipping business is booming. We are buying so much stuff. There is not enough room on the ships for everything and there's not enough room in the ports for all the ship through these big traffic jams in the porch ships are floating there for Dee's just brimming with stuff that people have ordered waiting their turn increase the volume came so quickly that you know, trucking companies warehouses. No one had time to staff up there. We have running into a lot of delays record in the wild west when it comes to shipping the wild west. Yes and prices of going wild as well Mike's as Freight rates are as much as four times what they were a year ago and this

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Wednesday at the ports shows no sign of slowing. In this situation also highlights one of the big themes of this page book and of this recession just how divided the country's economy is all those ships filled with stuff people are buying those people are probably people who still have their jobs who can work from home and who is employment situation and income haven't really changed but then she says there are the millions of people who are unemployed who have not been able to pay rent or can't afford groceries people who are losing the businesses that they built and watching their livelihoods just dissolve Sonia says, she doesn't expect us to change for a while at least not until the second half of this year. Hopefully by then. She says vaccines will be plentiful and businesses can reopen we needed site again go to the movies shake hands and the News will be a little bit bajor by that little bit.

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Relations to Sonia and her team at the Richmond fed. Like I don't know. How does it feel to to win to win?

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It feels great. But I don't I don't know that I have the speechmaking abilities of Halle Berry or Sally Field. But but yeah, we're we're really excited about it and I will say this to you know, in addition to the team that has spent countless hours on the phone and video in the last year. I really need to thank our contacts. So we have so much but congratulations Sonia and we want to thank all of the Federal Reserve Banks across the United States for their fantastic work.
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