The U.S. economy continues to move forward but faces risks from both the presidential election and the feared spread of the novel coronavirus, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.
In the central bank’s periodic “Beige Book” report from its member districts, officials saw activity growing at a “modest to moderate pace.” Threats from the coronavirus specifically did not seem to pose a major threat yet, though business contacts said they were worried about potential ramifications to come.
“There were indications that the coronavirus was negatively impacting travel and tourism in the U.S.,” the report said. “Manufacturing activity expanded in most parts of the country; however, some supply chain delays were reported as a result of the coronavirus and several Districts said that producers feared further disruptions in the coming weeks.”
The data in the report includes the period through Feb. 24, so it was before some of the recent intensifying of the disease spread and extreme volatility in financial markets.
There have been more than 94,000 cases of COVID-19 reported around the world and more than 3,200 deaths. Wall Street has seen a stock market correction that has come amid worries that the disease’s epicenter in China could cause a supply chain constraint through the world that will slow growth substantially.
“Outlooks for the near-term were mostly for modest growth with the coronavirus and the upcoming presidential election cited as potential risks,” the report stated.
Across individual districts, Philadelphia reported worries that the coronavirus “has increased uncertainty” about growth prospects, while Richmond saw concerns about lowering imports from China. Chicago, however, reported “little effect.”
On the election, multiple districts reported general uncertainty over business conditions related to the political landscape.