Each month, the regional branches of the Federal Reserve publish an index representing manufacturing and business activity within their regions. Taken together, they are a good proxy for the state of the overall economy, as they provide an earlier look at more comprehensive data than can be released by the feds for the nation as a whole. Recent reports from some Fed Banks have confirmed what we already knew; i.e. that the economy as a whole is suffering from slower growth. But, today, in what is a real surprise, the Dallas Fed released its report showing the economy in Texas experienced a sharp pull-back in July.