Fed survey: Economy rebounding, helped by stimulus, vaccines

A Federal Reserve survey has found that the economy was rebounding in late February through early April, helped by billions of dollars in a new round of stimulus payments and the stepped-up rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

The new survey released today showed that the Fed’s business contacts around the country were expressing more optimism about the economy’s outlook as activity accelerated.

The survey credited a range of factors, from vaccinations to the payments of up to $1,400 for individuals from the $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden pushed through Congress last month.

The survey, known as the beige book, will form the basis for discussions when Fed officials meet on April 27-28 to discuss what to do about interest rates.

While private forecasters have been busy boosting their economic projections for this year, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has continued to stress that the central bank is not close to raising rates. The Fed released projections last month that indicated it will hold off raising rates until after 2023.

The beige book report, based on information from business contacts supplied by the Fed’s 12 regional banks, said that manufacturing activity continued to expand, with half of the Fed districts reporting robust manufacturing growth. Those gains came despite supply-chain disruptions in such critical areas as computer chips.