Yesterday the Fed released its "beige book," an eight-times-a-year update on the economy based on reporting from its 12 regional outposts. I'm not sure what was more depressing, the genuinely bad information, or the Times' attempt to find some good news:

There were a few, faint silver linings: Philadelphia and Chicago reported that their regional economies “remained weak” but did not get weaker. Consumer spending picked up slightly after a dismal holiday shopping season, and prices eased because of weakened demand. Some information technology companies reported a rise in business as other companies looked to cut costs through the use of technology.

--Noam Scheiber