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CONFIDENTIAL (FR)

CURRENT ECONOMIC CONDITIONS BY DISTRICT

Prepared for the
Federal Open Market Committee
by the Staff

April 11, 1979

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SUMMARY page i
First District-Boston page 1
Second District-New York page 4
Third District-Philadelphia page 7
Fourth District-Cleveland page 9
Fifth District-Richmond page 14
Sixth District-Atlanta page 17
Seventh District-Chicago page 21
Eighth District-St. Louis page 24
Ninth District-Minneapolis page 27
Tenth District-Kansas City page 29
Eleventh District-Dallas page 32
Twelfth District-San Francisco page 36

SUMMARY*

[Asterisk: Prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.]

Based on the latest reports from the twelve district banks,
business activity continues at a generally healthy pace.

Outside of the

automotive industry, where the Teamsters' strike has hampered production,
manufacturing activity is at high levels in most districts.

With some

industries operating at or close to full capacity and new orders strong,
delivery lead times appear to have lengthened in a number of districts.
Business inventories are generally reported manageable, although some
stockpiling in anticipation of higher prices was noted.
picture across the nation is somewhat mixed.

The retail sales

While merchandising activity

continued to grow nationally, some districts reported a less-thansatisfactory Easter buying season and a cautious outlook among retailers.
Nonresidential construction continues strong in several areas, but home
building activity has declined.

On the financial scene, businesses,

consumers, and farmers appear to have been substantial borrowers at
commercial banks recently.
Manufacturing activity is strong and continuing to expand in
many districts.

While inventory accumulation presents no problem in

most areas, many districts reported a lengthening of delivery lead times.
Actual shortages of raw and intermediate materials were noted in only a
few cases.

Boston finds the strength in its industrial sector to be wide-

spread, citing automotive products, aircraft engines and parts, machine
tools, instruments and housing products.

While thousands of automotive

workers have been laid off in the Cleveland, Chicago and St. Louis areas as
a result of the Teamsters' strike, manufacturing activity in other sectors
is at a high level.

In Cleveland, for example, the steel and aluminum

industries are reported operating at effective capacity while the primary
metals, machine tools, rubber and plastics, and paper and paperboard
industries are at high or near peak operating rates.

Chicago area machine

tool builders see no letup in demand, which is the strongest since World
War II.

Most other districts report strong industrial activity, although

less robust activity was recorded by Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Consumer spending continues to grow, but the pace of growth is
mixed across the nation.

Reports from Minnesota and San Francisco suggested

that retailers were enthusiastic about the pace of retail sales.

Dallas,

Atlanta, St. Louis and Kansas City also reported some further expansion
and Richmond found signs that the normal Easter buying spree was underway.
Sales remain strong in northern New England, but some slight weakening may
be occurring in other parts of the Boston district.

Auto sales were strong

in many areas of the country, led by strong demand for small, fueleconomizing cars.

Philadelphia reports very soft retail sales in early

April, while sales in New York were mixed in recent weeks.
dampened spending in Chicago.

Cold weather

By and large, retail inventories were

reported in good balance with sales, although New York and Atlanta noted
evidence of excesses accumulating at particular retailers.
Commercial and industrial building continues strong in several
districts but residential construction is declining in most areas.

An

exception was noted by Atlanta, where construction of apartment houses

increased modestly and most new office space is rented before construction
is completed.

The effects of the recent change in Regulation Q relating to

money market certificates are mixed.

Some areas report thrift institutions

are only slightly affected, while in others there is fear of reduced
mortgage flows.
The outlook for agricultural income generally appears good.
Farmers are getting higher prices for many items and are optimistic about
the year's prospects.

Beef prices reached record levels, and corn and

soy bean prices remained strong.

Minnesota reports that its dairy

farms are also doing well and optimistic crop producers in Atlanta have
increased their plantings.

San Francisco notes higher yields and prices

for its dairy and crop production.
On the financial scene, loan demand was strong in reporting
districts, with the exception of Atlanta and Dallas.

Even in Dallas,

however, commitments to lend in the future show a sharp rise, indicating
strength ahead.

Demand was apparently widespread among businesses,

consumers and farmers.

Increased consumer loans to finance auto purchases

were noted in several areas.
most districts.

Deposit flows were reported adequate in

Some deposit gains were attributed to the recent change

in Regulation Q which, for yields over 9 percent, prohibits thrift
institutions from paying 1/4 percentage point more on money market
certificates than commercial banks.

Boston and Dallas, however, reported

little or no deposit growth in some areas.

Boston noted that some banks

in northern New England had responded to the lack of deposit growth by
becoming restrictive in their lending.

In New York, there are reports of

liquidity pressures on small- and medium-sized firms, but large corporations
do not appear to be affected.

FIRST DISTRICT - BOSTON

Directors and other respondents in the First District report that the
level of economic activity remains very high.
slight softening in retail sales.

The only sign of weakness is a

Manufacturers continue to experience strong

orders and capacity utilization is high.
price increases are becoming larger.

Delivery lead times are growing and

In the banking sector, loan demand is

strong, but regular time and savings deposits are not growing at all.
situation is causing the smaller banks considerable concern.

This

No one reports

any serious problems in the first week of the Teamsters strike; however, several
respondents expect to be adversely affected around the middle of the second week.
Retail sales in the First District may be weakening slightly.

The

head of a department store chain in the region believes that the momentum has
gone out of consumer purchases; it has become harder to sell.

A director

associated with a large food chain reports that, after several very dynamic
months, there has been a marked softening in the past three weeks.

On the other

hand, directors from northern New England say that sales in their states remain
strong.

Automobile dealers are doing particularly well.
Manufacturers in New England enjoyed a very strong March.

production were up; capacity utilization is high.

Orders and

The prosperity is widespread:

among the areas said to be doing well are automotive products, both commercial
and military aircraft engines and parts, machine tools, instruments, graphics
and apparel fasteners.

Housing products (windows, cabinets and various built

in products) are selling very well; however the demand for small appliances is
slightly off.

All the manufacturers contacted felt that their inventories

are at appropriate levels; they are much more concerned about continued

increases in delivery lead times and higher prices.

Increases in lead times

have been particularly marked for electronic components and castings and
forgings.

Prices have risen especially sharply for brass, plastics, and repairs

and services.

One large manufacturer expressed the view that price increases

by uncontrolled vendors will destroy the voluntary wage-price controls.
In the banking sector loan demand is stronger than expected, while
regular time and savings deposits are not growing at all.

In northern New

England this situation is forcing banks to become restrictive in their lending.
Smaller banks are worried about the possibility that the
six-months certificates will be lowered.

denomination of the

In contrast to the country banks, a

number of the money center banks are reported to be marketing loans very
aggressively.

This is said to be holding down interest rates; however, the

quality of the loans is also somewhat lower than it would otherwise be.

These

banks are not concerned about the availability of funds; they are willing to
buy whatever they need to make loans.
Professors Eckstein and Houthakker were available for comment this
month.

Eckstein believes that the level of economic activity is very near

full capacity.

His clients and his reading of current business conditions also

suggest that production and sales are still "moving along smartly."

The

married male unemployment rate has struck "rock bottom," help wanted ads abound,
and the DRI indices show that labor market conditions are "tight."

The

current low first quarter growth estimates reflect the vagaries of quarterly
GNP estimates, not a sharp deceleration in business activity.
Despite high demand, the economy does not appear to be running out of
cash.

At present, credit needs are modest compared to the banking system's

ability to supply funds.

The slow growth of the standard monetary aggregates

is misleading in this regard.

The public is acting as though it has adequate

money resources because it is accumulating liquidity in the form of "near money"
assets excluded from the standard aggregates.

For example, high interest rates

have caused a rapid expansion of money market mutual funds.

To the extent

these intermediaries purchase large CDs from commercial banks, M^ would provide
a better gauge of recent "money" growth than

M]_+, or M2.

Eckstein believes

that it would be a mistake to reduce the Federal Funds rate at this time.

In

fact, the Fed should take steps to tighten policy further, raising the funds
rate only as a last resort, however.
Houthakker is less optimistic than Eckstein.

He believes there is a

60 percent chance of a "pause" and 40 percent chance of a recession by year end.
Like Eckstein, Houthakker believes that the standard monetary aggregates are
misleading.

Considering the growth of money market mutual funds and other money

substitutes, monetary policy has been neither too tight nor too loose.

As long

as the public's liquid assets continue to grow at current rates, there is no
need to change the Federal Funds rate.

Furthermore, the Fed should not change

the Funds rate to "defend the dollar."

The dollar has been doing well recently.

It is more important to "defend the economy."

"A prosperous economy is the

best support we can give the dollar."
Houthakker is pleased with the President's energy program.

In time,

decontrol of energy prices should tend to reduce domestic prices as our supply
of oil increases and our dependence on foreign oil is reduced.
however, decontrol will increase prices.

Initially,

The Fed should not repeat the mistake

it made in 1974 of tightening monetary policy too severely in response to these
higher energy prices.

Houthakker suggests a "middle course:"

The Fed should

not adamantly hold the line on price increases, nor should it passively permit
higher energy prices to set off ensuing rounds of inflation.

SECOND DISTRICT—NEW YORK

Business activity in the Second District continued to expand
moderately in March and early April according to recent comments of
directors and other business leaders.

While retail sales have been

mixed, current and prospective business sales continue to be strong.
With respect to inventories, several manufacturers mentioned
that they thought that their customers had begun to stockpile
inventories in anticipation of higher prices and the possibility of a
prolonged teamsters' strike.

Although supplies of most basic and inter-

mediate materials seem adequate, scarcities have been reported for certain
chemicals and other products.

On the financial front, there were reports

of continued liquidity pressures on small- and medium-sized firms.
Retail sales in the Second District have been mixed in recent
weeks.

Some retailers report their sales have been brisk, while others

expressed disappointment.

In any event, comparisons of the sales figures

with those for a year ago are difficult because Easter occurs several
weeks later this year.

The teamsters' strike was not expected

to have much effect on retail sales until late May or early June,
when goods now on order and scheduled to be delivered would be merchandised.
At some stores that reported disappointing sales, inventories appear
to be running on the high side.

Indeed, one large national retailer plans

to cut back on its orders to work down its excess stocks.

The general

consensus is that retail sales will probably post a modest increase in 1979.
Consumer spending on automobiles has been quite strong over the past
month, accompanied by a pronounced shift in the sales mix.

The demand

for small cars, including both foreign and domestic makes, has been brisk,
reportedly reflecting consumers increased concern with fuel economy.
Outside of retailing, business activity remains robust.
Overall, orders are brisk and capital spending is strengthening.
A few clouds do seem to be forming on the business horizon, however.
Delivery times for many goods are lengthening, and bottlenecks are
developing for a few raw and intermediate materials—e.g., chemicals,
carbon products, petroleum products, paper, and certain kinds of steel.
Similarly, the demand for producers durables equipment may also be running
up against a supply constraint.

One upstate durables manufacturer

mentioned that his business was "excellent", but that his delivery times
have now stretched beyond the one-year mark.

At the same time, some busi-

ness inventories seem to be growing at a faster rate than they had been in
recent months.

While businesses still assert that they are conscientiously

following "cautious" inventory-management policies, there are scattered
reports of "imbalances."

One large paper-products manufacturer, for

example, cited localized buildups in the Midwest and on the West Coast.
Also, several businesses mentioned that their customers appeared to be
stockpiling materials and might even be "double-ordering" goods in order
to ensure delivery.

Some of these inventory imbalances may be the result

of the teamsters' strike.
Looking ahead, there is still considerable sentiment that a
slowdown is in the offing for the second half of 1979 led by a softening
in the housing and consumer sectors, although there is disagreement on

the degree of the slowing.

However, one respondent suggested that a long

teamsters' strike could dampen even a sharp slowdown, as a strike would
deplete inventories and its settlement would later produce a surge like
the steel strike of 1968.

In that event, in his view the post-strike

recovery would mitigate the depressive effects of the recession.
On the financial front, there is general agreement that liquidity
pressures are increasing, but only for small- and medium-sized firms.

Indeed,

many businesses reported longer collection lags for their accounts receivable.
The senior lending officers at major Second District banks who were contacted,
however, have yet to see evidence of seriously deteriorating corporate
liquidity among their customers, who include many of the largest
national firms.

One respondent cited weak corporate borrowing over

the March tax date as indicating ample liquidity.

Although the recent

easing in the commercial paper market has at times widened the spread between
the prime rate and paper rates, this development was not viewed as reducing
large banks' loan demand.

This is because the spread was viewed as

increasing from a level which was already high enough to discourage
utilization of short-term bank credit by most paper issuers.

THIRD DISTRICT-PHILADELPHIA

Indications from the Third District are that economic activity is mixed in
April.

The industrial sector reports only marginal expansion this month and retail

executives say sales have become extremely soft in the first weeks of the month.
There is even some feeling in the retail sector that this may be the beginning of the
downturn many people have been forecasting. As for the future, manufacturers look
for a slowdown within six months, while merchants remain very cautious and conservative. One bright spot in the Third District picture is the banking industry. Area
bankers report strong business loan demand, and expect the trend to continue at least
through October.

However, some drop-off in consumer loan volume is anticipated.

Third District manufacturers responding to the April Business Outlook Survey
indicate only marginal expansion in overall industrial activity this month.

In terms

of specific indicators, new orders are up only fractionally while shipments continue
to increase.

Consequently, manufacturers' inventories have fallen for the sixth

consecutive month. Factory employment, though, continues to grow. Survey respondents report both larger payrolls and slightly longer working hours in April.
For the longer term, executives in the industrial sector retain their pessimism.

Nearly half of those polled in April expect business conditions to worsen by

October, while less than one-fifth anticipate further growth. And, for the first time
in this expansion, survey respondents are forecasting a drop in virtually all specific
indicators. Both new orders and shipments are projected to fall significantly within
the next six months, and a further paring of stocks is planned.

At the same time,

manufacturers foresee a slight cut in the size of factory work forces, along with a
shortening of the workweek.

On the price front, inflation continues in the District's industrial sector,
and manufacturers expect to see more of the same over the next two quarters. Four
out of five of the executives surveyed in April report paying higher prices for inputs
this month, and two out of five are charging more for their finished products. Looking
ahead to October, about 80 percent expect further hikes in the cost of raw materials,
and 65 percent plan to boost the prices of the goods they sell.
Area retail sales have been "uncomfortably soft" thus far in April, following
two boom months. Merchants were expecting large year-over-year increases in early
April owing to the change in the calendar position of Easter.

Such increases have

not materialized, however, leading many retailers to believe that sales have softened
dramatically lately. In fact, instead of attributing the slow sales to the usual transitory
causes, one merchant believes that "March was quite likely to be the last good month
retailers will see for some time."
Looking ahead to the summer and early fall, retailers are extremely cautious.
The general feeling is that large boosts in the price of essentials such as food and
energy will leave less money for consumers to spend on other things.

Furthermore,

Third District merchants had a strong summer in 1978, which will make big year-overyear gains difficult. Overall then, sales executives are looking for a marginal increase
in nominal sales volume with about a 5 percent drop in real volume. Retail inventories,
reported to be about as desired now, should not undergo any major change within the
next six months.
Area bankers report continued strength in both business and consumer loan
demand in April.

Business borrowing is up as much as 10 percent over year-ago

levels and generally as planned.

Bankers foresee little change in the business loan

situation through October, but anticipate a slight drop-off in consumer loan volume.

The prime rate remains at 11 3/4 percent at all banks contacted this month.
Forecasts of the prime rate for the next two quarters continue to be widely varied,
ranging from a move to 12 percent in the near future followed by a leveling off, to
a continued climb through summer with a 14 percent cyclical peak in August or
September.
Deposit flows at local banks appear to be adequate at the present time.
Commercial banks report no ill effects stemming from changes in Regulation Q on
the fifteenth of March. Money market certificates are still selling in the area, with
about 50 percent of the money they attract coming from other accounts within the
issuing institution.

FOURTH DISTRICT—CLEVELAND

Automotive production and employment in the Fourth District is
being hampered by the Teamsters strike, but other key manufacturing
industries are operating close to effective capacity.

High operating rates

and fear of shortages have stimulated some inventory building.

Manufac-

turers see little sign of let-up in price pressures in the near-term.
Retailers still view short-term sales prospects cautiously and some expect
smaller gains in sales this quarter than last.

Deposit flows at S&Ls in

recent weeks have slackened, and officials are uncertain over future deposit
flows and mortgage lending.
Except for the automotive industry, the Teamsters strike has not
yet had disruptive effects on employment and production, although sizable
cutbacks are likely if the strike lasts beyond mid-April.

Auto production

so far this month has been cut nearly 8 percent from the scheduled 825,000
units.

GMC has already shortened the workweek at plants in Cincinnati and

last week furloughed 7,400 workers for one week at the Lordstown assembly
plant and another 6,000 workers at a nearby electrical equipment plant.
Production losses were reported at about 7,500 passenger cars and vans.
Ford Motors expects a cutback of about 55,000 passenger cars this month,
nearly 25 percent of their planned schedule, even if the strike ends this
week.

They expect that two-thirds of the production loss will be made in

May and June, but 10 percent or more will not be recovered in this model year
because of poor sales of certain models.

In addition, Chrysler announced a

shutdown of six plants in Ohio beginning April 9.

However, the shutdown

probably stems from excess inventories rather than the Teamsters strike.
Nonautomotive industries, including primary metals, machine tools,
trucks, rubber and plastics and paper and paperboard, are reported to be
at high or near peak operating rates.

Effects of the Teamsters strike on

employment and production in these industries have been minimal, although
steel, glass and auto components producers expect disruptions should the
strike continue much longer.
at effective capacity.

Steel and aluminum industries are operating

Steel is expected to operate at about 95 percent

capacity this quarter, a presumed maximum rate, unless hindered by the
Teamsters strike.

A shortage of domestic coke has boosted imports.

One

economist expects some domestic steel users to step-up imports because of
fear of shortages and lengthening lead times at domestic mills.

A major

flat glass supplier to CMC reports a full order book through this summer.
An axle and transmission producer also reports no cutbacks in production
have yet resulted because of the Teamsters strike and remarked that should
the auto industry be shut down, this producer would continue at full
production in order to relieve a shortage in axles.
noted in sales of vans because of higher fuel prices.

Some softening is
A shortage of

polyvinyl chloride has led some producers to allocate production.

Tire

producers have been operating at capacity partly because of high demand
and also because of expiration of the labor contract on April 20.

An

economist with a tire producer expects that the probability of a strike
in the rubber industry will be heightened if the Teamsters strike continues
through April 20.

Paperboard capacity has tightened because U.S. producers

have stepped up exports in response to higher prices abroad than in U.S. markets.

Businesses assert they are still cautious in inventory policies but
are more willing to step up inventory building because economic activity in
the fourth quarter of 1978 and again in the last quarter was better than some
expected, which has given rise to a feeling that the widely discussed recession
is not yet apparent.

An automotive parts suppliers note that their inventories

are at record levels but in terms of day's supply, stocks at the end of last
month fell because of further increases in sales.
Intense price pressures show little sign of abatement in the near-term,
nor are they expected to let up as long as manufacturing activity continues to
operate at or near peak rates.

Some officials remarked that only recently have

markets for their products been strong enough to absorb price increases.
scattered signs of moderation in price pressures are indicated.

Only

For example,

additional FVC capacity is expected to be in operation within the next two to
three months, which should end allocation of that product and ease strong upward price pressures.

Also, steel scrap prices in some regions fell recently

but this was not expected to spread to all steel producing regions.
Unlike ebullient remarks from manufacturers, retailers remain cautious
in their appraisal of consumer spending prospects.

The Easter season does not

appear to have stimulated GAF sales so far this month.

A department store

official notes that consumers respond well to bargains and heavy promotions.
An economist with a major department store chain expected April sales will
increase about 9 to 10 percent from a year-ago, but he expects only an 8
percent year-over-year increase in sales this quarter compared with a 9.5
percent increase last quarter.

S&L reports on deposit flows and consumer responses to recent
changes in money market certificates are mixed.

Some feel that the March 15

changes that set maximum rates on certificates may not have much adverse
effect on deposit flows.

An economist with a FIILB in this District perceives

that associations are not strapped for funds, at least as suggested by an
increase in paybacks instead of in new borrowings in recent weeks.

On the

other hand, some others feel associations have not been successful in
rollover of maturing certificates.

Nevertheless, some officials believe

they can still draw down liquidity and step up borrowing to support mortgage
demand, which is typically described as rising seasonally but not as strong
as a year-ago.

Prices of new houses continue to rise rapidly, although

prices of new houses have tended to increase less rapidly than last year,
according to some lenders.

FIFTH DISTRICT - RICHMOND

Responses to our latest survey indicate
provement in Fifth District business activity.

some further modest im-

Gains in manufacturing appear

spotty, concentrated for the most part among producers of hard goods.

Inven-

tory accumulation in the manufacturing sector appears to have picked up in
the past two months but remains moderate.

Pessimism in the business com-

munity appears to be less pervasive than earlier in the year, although expectations for the next six months are still basically negative.

The infla-

tion problem continues to be the number one concern among businessmen.

Thus

far the Easter retail rush appears to be something short of spectacular.

Loan

demand at banks has picked up in recent weeks but activity in mortgage markets
has slowed.
Of manufacturers responding to our latest survey nearly one-third report increases in shipments, new orders, and order backlogs over the past month.
Such gains appear more prevalent among producers of primary metals, machinery
and equipment, and electrical equipment than among manufacturers at large. On
the other hand, textiles and paper producers do not seem to have shared in these
recent gains.

Employment among manufacturers continues to hold steady as does

the length of the work week.

Further accumulation of finished goods inventories

apparently occurred since the last survey, but, on balance, current stocks have
risen only very slightly relative to desired levels.

For the most part our

directors see little indication of significant inventory accumulation such as
that which occurred during 1974.

Only two directors see any cause for concern

over current inventory developments.

One cites heavy buying in anticipation

of higher prices and one views heavy accumulation at the retail level as a

seasonal development.

Manufacturers seem comfortable with current plant and

equipment capacity and with current expansion plans.
Our sources of information yield no clear picture of conditions in
the retail sector.

There are signs that the normal Easter buying spree is

underway, but no indication that it has been in anyway spectacular.
retailers characterize current conditions only as stable.
pickup in sales of big ticket items.

Several

One cites a recent

Sources in the financial sector perceive

strength in automobile sales and also in the use of credit cards.
The pervasive pessimism of last winter appears to be dissipating in
the face of continued strength in the economy.

Expectations among our survey

respondents remain basically negative, but it is clear that a number of those
respondents feel that prospects have improved in recent weeks.

Over one-third

of the manufacturers still expect the level of business activity nationally to
decline over the next six months, but fewer than one-fourth expect declines
in their respective market areas.

Furthermore, over one-fourth expect further

gains in output in their own firms.

Retailers, on balance, foresee little

change in the level of activity nationally, locally, or in their individual
firms.

Several firms expressed concern over specific conditions, inflation,

the level of interest rates, the oil situation, and the teamsters' strike, but
the basic outlook held by District businessmen can only be said to have improved
in recent months.
In the financial sector businesses appear to have become more active
bank borrowers and there are signs of renewed demand for instalment credit to
finance purchases of automobiles.

The residential mortgage market, however,

continues to reflect slowing activity.

Small to medium sized firms seeking

working capital credits have contributed to recent increases in commercial bank
lending to businesses.

Loan demand has been greatest on the part of manufacturers,

and strength here has been somewhat offset by weak demand in the trade sector.
Commercial banks in the region continue to feel comfortable with their liquidity
positions, and thrift institutions have experienced only a moderate slowing
in funds inflows following recent change in regulation governing money market
certificates.
Fifth District farmers enjoyed a greater improvement in cash farm
income in 1978 than did farmers nationwide.

Generally good crop production—

in contrast with the drought-reduced crop output of 1977—and higher farm prices
combined to bolster total cash receipts from farm marketings some 17 percent
over year-earlier levels as against an increase of around 15 percent nationally.
Receipts from crop marketings, up 19 percent, contributed most to the District
increase.

By state, greatest improvement in total cash farm income occurred

in Virginia and the Carolinas—states hit hardest by the 1977 drought.

SIXTH DISTRICT - ATLANTA

Activity has been rather quiet in the past month, bringing steady
but modest grwoth despite the emergence of potential problems.

Except for

subcompact car sales, consumer spending gains have been small.

Housing

markets remain fairly strong but softening.
a bit better, but loan demand has eased.
dential construction have continued.

At banks, deposit growth looks

Steady, solid advances in nonresi-

Layoffs and strikes have clouded labor

market reports, but the Teamsters' strike has had only limited impact as
yet.

Inventories appear to be adequate and manageable, although short

gasoline supplies have become more visible.

Farmers are getting higher

prices and are optimistic about the year's prospects.
Growth in retail sales within the District has been moderate and
steady.

Many retailers indicated that consumer spending is generally satis-

factory and may be slightly ahead of spending for the comparable period in
1978.

A continued shift in preference for smaller, fuel-efficient automobiles

was evident, with very good sales straining supplies of economy cars.

One

contact reported a tendency for middle-class consumers to trade down to
smaller models, while the well-to-do continue to purchase luxury cars.
There's been little change in housing trends of late.

Some areas

reported a pick-up in mortgage loan demand in March, probably largely seasonal
or due to special influences like April 1 changes in local building codes.
Apartment construction continues to increase modestly, although some areas
have noted apartment vacancies creeping up.

In early April, New Orleans

made available some $72 million, raised through municipal bonds, to mortgage
borrowers at 8 1/4 percent.

Estimates of the total amount of tax-free

mortgage offerings planned by Louisiana cities range from $500 million to
$750 million.

Several Florida cities, including Jacksonville, have similar

bond issues in the works.
Loan demand, excluding mortgages, has moderated in the most recent
weeks.

Deposit inflows have strengthened, although demand for six-month

money certificates seems to have slowed after the regulatory changes.

In

Tennessee, with an easing of usury restrictions on the horizon, borrowers are
reportedly negotiating eagerly for longer loan maturities.
Nonresidential construction appears to be progressing at a steady
pace.

Office occupancy rates have continued upward, nudging up rents; con-

struction seems to be well-balanced against reasonable expectations for
demand, with most space rented in advance.

Land transactions have been very

active, with prices strong and even distressed properties now moving.

A

major Atlanta realtor has experienced no abatement of commercial closings to
date, but he sees some hesitation of prospects, definite caution with regard
to retail properties, and a potential overhang of warehouse construction.
He characterizes credit availability as good and underwriting as "sensible."
Some noteworthy industrial announcements have been made in the past few
weeks, among them a $150- to $200-million expansion of St. Regis' Pensacola
plant and an enormous electric-generating facility in Tennessee.

Florida's

phosphate producers are moving ahead with ambitious expansion plans, notably
the development of uranium extraction capabilities, since the EPA gave them
the green light in March.
Recent labor market news has been downbeat, with strikes and layoffs
dominating the picture, but the potential for good job growth remains.

The

latest hard figures, several weeks old, showed only slight overall employment

gains.

A construction strike, involving 2,500-5,000 workers, has brought a

halt to major commercial building projects in south Florida.

Georgia-

Pacific's Louisville, Mississippi, plant continues to operate despite a
lock-out of local workers.

Both disputes arose from management's attempts

to keep wage increases within the Administration's guidelines.

The impact

of the Teamsters' strike has been muted by the District's relatively high
proportion of nonunion labor in trucking.

The two Atlanta-area GM plants

are well-supplied with parts, the majority of which are received by rail,
and are likely to be stepping up production in coming weeks.

Ford's Lakewood,

Georgia, LTD plant will remain on a one-week-on, one-week-off schedule until
July to reduce inventories and alleviate a parts shortage that pre-dates the
Teamsters' strike.

While it appears that Georgia will be spared from any

major military cutbacks, Florida is likely to be the hardest hit state in
the nation, losing more than 5,000 armed forces personnel, if the recent
proposals are carried out.
A query of directors regarding inventories revealed no significant
problems, either build-ups or shortages, although many expect some if the
Teamsters' strike persists much longer.

A few bankers reported that they

received limited requests for financing of extra inventories just prior to
the strike.

Retail stocks are generally considered tractable, although

Atlanta retailers complain of excesses.

Supplies of some steel products

remain tight, with lead times extending further.
Tightness of gasoline supplies has become more noticeable but has
yet to pose major problems.

Temporary outages have been more common, mainly

at retail stations (especially Exxon) but also at some distributorships.
Many stations have cut back hours and/or begun closing on Sundays.

Other

rationing schemes being considered by retailers include converting selfserve pumps to full-serve and limiting service to regular customers; some
south Florida stations are reportedly issuing IDs for that purpose.

Some

hoarding of fuels, notably by agricultural and construction firms, has been
observed by central Florida directors.

On the other hand, the trucking

slowdown has reduced sales of gasoline, food, etc., at truck stops.
The Three-Mile Island incident has provoked a great deal of comment
on the future of nuclear power in the Southeast; scattered groups of protestors
have called for the closing of existing facilities and a halt to construction
of new nuclear plants.

No concrete steps in that direction have yet come to

our attention.
Business is poor in the District's coal industry.
operators are selling at loss or closing shop.

Many smaller

The industry has seen a

rather brisk capital expansion and a dramatic rise in regulatory costs in
the past few years, while the projected surge in coal demand has not
materialized.
In the agricultural sector, prices generally have continued to
rise.

Beef prices posted a new record last month, and corn and soybean

prices remained quite strong.

Expanded production dropped poultry and pork

prices, however; a "promotional" 10-percent cut in citrus prices looks
likely to stick, and industry sources are talking of another reduction
within the next few weeks.
ings and borrowings.

Crop producers are optimistic, increasing plant-

Heavy rains have put plowing slightly behind schedule.

SEVENTH DISTRICT - CHICAGO

The truck strike has taken the economic spotlight in the Seventh
District, even though Chicago area truckers have not been directly involved.
Many companies attempted to prepare for the April 1 strike deadline by putting
in additional supplies, and this augmented already heavy demands for materials
and components.

The main impact of the strike, so far, has "been on output of

motor vehicles.

Orders for producer equipment continue to outrun rising ship-

ments.

Demand for trained and trainable workers remains vigorous.

purchases have been dampened by cold weather and the late Easter.

Consumer
Real estate

transactions picked up sharply in March from depressed levels, but home building is expected to lag year ago by a wide margin.
prosperous, particularly livestock farmers.

Farmers are relatively

Continued stringencies in beef

supplies will be offset, in part, by a major expansion now underway in. pork
and poultry production.
Prior to the truck strike, truck lines were operating all out:
(l) to make up for the bad winter, (2) to accommodate rising activity, and
(3) to carry goods ordered as a hedge against the strike.
closing assembly plants soon after the strike.
halt the entire motor vehicle industry.

Auto companies began

A strike of a few weeks would

Operations are geared to a steady flow

of components to the final assembly process.
Outside of motor vehicles the impact of the truck strike has been
"spotty."

Steel has continued to move to the South and West from Chicago, but

not to the East.

Smaller unionized trucklines, company fleets, independents,

lines with Teamster contracts expiring at other dates, and most Chicago area
lines have continued to operate.

LTTL (less than truckload lots) shipments

are being avoided by operating truckers.

Various devices are being used to

keep operations going, including rented trucks.

The railroads are of little

help because they have been operating at virtual capacity determined by availability of equipment and the condition of trackage.
The three-year pact rejected by the Teamsters would increase compensation more than 30 percent.

Pending negotiations in other industries have come

to a standstill awaiting a settlement by the Teamsters.

Pay is already high

with many young men making $20,000 or more annually, not counting fringes.
The main issues are said to be a demand for two COLA adjustments per year,
rather than one, and an increase from $60 to $90 per week in the pensionwelfare package.

The adequacy of existing pension reserves has been jeopar-

dized by unfortunate investment policies.
Negotiators are also watching the UAL strike.

The Machinists rejected

a three-year pact worth 32 percent in wages and Uo percent in total compensation.
One issue is a demand for an unlimited COLA.
Informed observers expect a truck strike agreement within a week or so,
before the general supply situation deteriorates seriously, because owners are
more -unified and strikers less militant than in the past.
means certain.

But this is by no

Moreover, Chicago area locals may decide to strike after the

national pact is negotiated as they have in the past.
The truck strike is not expected to affect production and distribution
of oil products because pipelines, jobber-owned trucks, and independent trucklines handle most of the traffic.

Moreover, the truck strike and the airline

strike are helping to alleviate the very tight supply situation for diesel
fuel, jet fuel, and heating oil.

Inventories of these products had been drawn

down to dangerously low levels, especially in the Midwest.

No problems have been reported recently with the nuclear stations
that supply a vital portion of the electricity used in Illinois, Michigan,
and Wisconsin.

Commonwealth Edison, which serves 8 million people in Northern

Illinois, depends on nuclear power for almost half of its requirements.

There

is grave concern that the problem at Three-Mile Island will add force to demands that construction be stopped on several new nuclear stations and that
existing stations be closed.
The producer equipment surge is still underway.
see no letup in demand unmatched since World War II.

Machine tool builders

Producers of freight car

components have decided to expand capacity, finally convinced that the boom
will last.
The auto and truck market is generally strong, but very mixed.

Some

economical cars are bringing premiums over list prices, and some standardsize models are in short supply.

However, supplies of light trucks, other

than four-wheel drives, are now ample.

Demand for heavy trucks remained strong

in March, much to the surprise of some forecasters.
Mainly because of a surge in livestock prices, average farm prices
were at record levels in the first quarter, 2h percent above year ago.

Net

farm income in 1979 is expected to surpass the 1973 record which was nearly
equaled in 1978.

Farmers are buying equipment at a fast pace, and are expected

to continue to do so.
ysignificantly
The truck strike is not expected to affect supplies of meats and other
perishables, almost all of which are carried by independents.

Tie-ups in

terminal areas are possible, however.
Increased pork and poultry production, perhaps as much as 20 percent,
will moderate upward pressures on food prices in the second half of the year.

EIGHTH DISTRICT — ST. LOUIS
According to a number of Eighth District businessmen, the District
economy continues to advance at about the same rate as a month ago. The
strongest gains apparently were registered in the manufacturing sector where
larger orders were reported by several important industries. In some cases,
however, anticipation of the truckers' strike may have affected March orders.
In addition, the strike is currently having substantial effects on the
automobile manufacturing industry and will threaten others if it lasts very
long. Retailers report that sales have continued to increase, but some noted
a possible slower trend. Inventories, however, remain at about desired
levels. Construction activity continues at a high level spurred by increased
nonresidential construction. Homebuilding, on the other hand, remains
somewhat lower than a year ago, but such activity improved in March over the
very low levels of January and February.
Overall, retail sales continue to increase although some retailers
indicate a slowing in recent weeks. One representative of a major St. Louis
department store noted that recent sales have been increasing, but at a
slower rate than the current rate of inflation. Two representatives of
national retail marketing chains also reported a slower growth in sales.
Retailers, however, do not report major problems with inventory accumulation.
Unit sales of automobiles are apparently about the same as a year ago.
Dealers, however, noted a marked shift toward smaller cars.
Manufacturing activity has continued upward in recent weeks, but
recent gains may not totally reflect the underlying strength of the economy
since some orders were placed in anticipation of the truckers' strike.

Representatives of firms manufacturing boxboard, chemical, and construction
materials all indicated that part of the strength in March sales may have
partially reflected the impending strike. A representative of a major steel
firm reported strong orders and a sizable backlog of orders. Several machine
tool firms reported sales to be quite strong and that delivery dates have
lengthened. A major aircraft manufacturer reported that commercial aircraft
manufacturing activity is "booming" as a result of recent orders.
While anticipation of the truckers' strike may have boosted activity
in March, the strike is currently having a major impact on the automobile
industry. In the St. Louis area more than 18,000 workers have either been
laid off or are working fewer hours. Other firms noted that the strike will
not cause them to shut down in the immediate future, but that a prolonged
strike will cause serious problems in obtaining raw materials and delivery of
finished products will develop if the strike is prolonged.
Overall, construction activity continues at a high level in the
District as a decline in the homebuilding industry has been offset by
nonresidential construction. Contractors of commercial, highway, and other
types of construction report long backlogs of projects, and, in some cases,
are refusing to bid on new projects. Homebuilding activity, on the other
hand, was off substantially in the first two months of the year, but gained
momentum in March. While new home sales also have picked up, builders
indicate that it is too early to estimate the current strength of home
demand. Most homebuilders are expecting a 15 to 20 percent decline in unit
sales this year.
Recent regulatory changes concerning money market certificates
apparently are exerting an adverse effect on savings inflows at savings and

loan associations, but are boosting the inflow into commercial banks. While
in earlier months S and Ls were able to attract large amounts of funds via
these certificates, some S and L officials noted that the inflow of these
funds tapered off during March. These officials said, however, that it was
too early to predict the final impact of the recent changes. Missouri S and
L officials contacted are not upset by the regulatory change since these
funds are not very profitable in view of Missouri's 10 percent usury ceiling
on home mortgages. Legislation has been introduced into the Missouri
legislature to amend the usury law.
Commercial banks report that loan demand remains strong although the
volume of loans at larger banks has not shown much gain in recent weeks. S
and L officials report continued high demand for home mortgages, particularly
for existing homes. Some S and Ls, particularly in states affected by usury
ceilings, are continuing to ration credit to customers by increasing the down
payment on loans.

NINTH DISTRICT - MINNEAPOLIS

Contrary to what many economists predicted last year, the district's
economy is holding up pretty well. Several economists expected both the nation
and the district to slide into a recession by the end of 1978 or at least early
in 1979.

Our Bank's directors indicate in April, however, that business

activity remains strong.

And as long as the trucking strike is not prolonged,

they expect that strength to continue everywhere except in the construction
industry.

Widespread Strength and Optimism
District manufacturers seem to be having a very good year.

Several

directors report brisk activity in these industries which they think will
increase.

This strength is reflected in the heavy loan demand directors see at

many commercial banks, and they don't expect that to ease soon either.
This region's low unemployment is another manifestation of economic
strength.

The district's unemployment rate is currently at a low 4.3 percent,

and nonagricultural jobs have increased 4.4 percent over the last year.
fact, two directors say their areas are at full employment.

In

Joblessness should

remain low in this district; help wanted ads indicate that employers are not
slackening their hiring plans.
The farm sector is also contributing to the district's prosperity.
Directors expect high prices to continue to bolster livestock producers'
profitability.

Dairy farmers are making money too, and new price supports

should make their business even better.

And grain growers' prospects remain

quite favorable if the weather cooperates.
This strength in the district's economy makes district retailers busy
and optimistic.

Hard goods and autos are selling well, and retailers think

demand

will

remain

strong

for

these

goods,

especially

smaller

cars.

Unseasonably cold weather is holding down soft goods sales, but this merchandise
is expected to start moving once warmer weather arrives.
retailers are satisfied

with

their

inventories

and

Directors say most

don't

anticipate

any

problems.

A Slowdown and a Threat
Not everything looks rosy, however.
For one thing, the district's construction industry is working hard
now, but it seems likely to slow later this year.
products

supplier,

headquartered

in

Minneapolis,

A large national building
reports

that

customers'

inventories unexpectedly rose sharply in early 1979 because of a softening in
residential building.

This firm sees housing starts dropping from 1.8 million

to 1.6 million between the first and second halves of 1979.

In addition, this

manufacturer says bookings for new commercial and industrial projects fell in
early 1979, and it projects national nonresidential building peaking in the
third quarter and declining 5 percent in real terms between 1979 and 1980.
These declines are expected to result mostly from the high cost and low
availability of funds—a concern that several bank directors also have.
And the construction industry may not be the only one weakening if the
current trucking strike lasts much longer.
Montana ranchers' ability to get feed.

The strike has already affected

And a large Minneapolis-St. Paul area

manufacturer is starting to run out of space because finished products cannot be
shipped.

Directors think that if the strike does not end within about two

weeks, many manufacturing plants and construction projects will be shut down as
inventories of production inputs are depleted.

TENTH DISTRICT—KANSAS CITY

Economic activity continues generally strong in the Tenth District,
although there are signs of weakening consumer demand and scattered indications of declines in construction.

Most manufacturers are operating at

or near capacity, and are scrambling for materials to keep their inventories
of inputs at satisfactory levels.

Purchasing agents have not observed any

abatement in the rate of increase of materials prices, nor do they expect
any in the months ahead.

Retail stores report some moderation in wholesale

price increases, but lackluster sales volume.

Farm income stands to benefit

from the increased price of livestock, and agricultural loan demand is very
strong.

Deposit growth is uneven among banks across the District, judging

from the mixed reports received.

Bankers do not expect to be changing their

prime rates for a while.
Retailers say their sales receipts are up only slightly from yearago levels.

Retail sales volume in recent months has been increasing much

more slowly than in late 1978, making retailers apprehensive about their
prospects for the rest of the year.

The large gains that were reported five

to six months ago have sharply dissipated, and store executives are quite
concerned about the possibility that a recession may begin in the third
quarter.
Prices paid by retailers have been rising somewhat in the last
two or three months, but there seems to have been some moderation in the
increases.

Compliance with price standards by manufacturers is cited as

one reason for the moderation.

Retailers feel that their inventories are a

little high—particularly when looking at a flat third quarter with recession

overtones.

However, some stores say they built up inventories in anticipation

of the Teamsters strike.
Purchasing agents say prices for most major inputs are approximately 10 to 12 per cent higher than this time last year, with some steel
inputs and petroleum based inputs registering increases of 20 to 50 per
cent.

During the first quarter of this year alone, prices of commodities

such as copper, aluminum, steel, corrugated shipping materials, and petroleum
products have risen about 10 per cent.

Buyers expect input prices to continue

to rise rapidly, especially prices for aluminum and oil-based supplies.
Most industry spokesmen consider their current inventories of
materials to be at satisfactory levels.

But, inputs are becoming increasingly

difficult to obtain as lead times are stretching out substantially, especially
in the machinery, agricultural equipment, and aircraft industries.

A pro-

longed Teamsters strike threatens to make matters worse.
Several Tenth District metropolitan areas report tight labor markets.
On the other hand, one Director from Omaha says that architects, engineers,
and construction workers in that area cannot find work.

Another Director is

bothered by the apparent relaxation of the wage guidelines, believing that
any change now will cast employers who complied in a bad light.
Farm prices are continuing to rise to record high levels.

In

March, the index of prices received by farmers rose 2 per cent, the fourth
consecutive monthly increase.

Beef cattle prices jumped nearly 10 per cent

for the month, and this increase was responsible for most of the increase
that occurred in the index of farm prices.
month, however.

Not all farm prices rose last

Lower prices for hogs and vegetables partly offset the

gains for other commodities.

Nevertheless, farm prices in March were 23

per cent above year-earlier figures.

This strong gain coupled with the

prospects for the remainder of 1979 suggests that net farm income will
exceed the 1978 level of $28 billion.
The sharp improvement in 1978 farm income has been reflected in
the farm real estate market, which in the past year rose 14 per cent nationwide.

Within the Tenth District, the annual increase ranged from 7 per cent

in New Mexico to more than 20 per cent in Colorado and Nebraska, averaging
about 14 per cent for the District as a whole.

Although interest rates on

real estate mortgages have increased about one percentage point in the past
year, the bright prospects for 1979 farm income will probably outweigh most
concerns about the cost of borrowing.

Thus, further increases in land values

seem likely in the Tenth District.
Most bankers in the Tenth District report that loan demand is strong,
with agricultural loans, especially cattle loans, particularly strong.

The

demand for consumer, commercial, and retail loans is generally good, while
the demand for housing and construction loans is mixed.

All banks surveyed

report prime rates between 11.50 and 11.75 per cent, and no rate changes are
planned for the near term.

However, most bankers say they are becoming more

selective in their lending activity.
Bankers give mixed reports on deposit growth.

Most of the perceived

sluggishness in growth is attributed to seasonal factors.

Savings and time

deposits are normal to flat while the other deposit categories are showing
varied behavior among banks.

The mixed reports for money market and large

CD's are a marked change from the general strength indicated in these areas
during the March survey.

ELEVENTH DISTRICT—DALLAS
The economy of the Eleventh District continues to advance,
according to the Directors and businessmen surveyed, "but the Teamsters'
strike is beginning to disrupt business activity.

Consumer spending

remains strong with both department stores and auto dealers reporting
recent gains in sales volume.

Bank loans outstanding continue to grow

at the same reduced rate that has prevailed since the start of the year.
Mortgage lending activity by savings and loan associations is down substantially from last year's peak and appears to be slowing further.
New orders and capacity utilization remain high in most manufacturing
industries.

There is a noticeable rise of resentment about inflation,

and the Government's inability to handle the problem effectively.
The Teamsters' strike forced the temporary closing of a local
GM assembly plant due to a lack of parts.

Other manufacturers are

watching the situation closely and indicate a prolonged strike would be
harmful.

The strike has not appreciably affected the movement of goods

at the port of Houston, although some merchandise that would normally
leave the port is being warehoused.
Department store sales continue to increase and remain slightly
above last year's Easter sales period.
helping to boost sales volumes.

Early spring sales promotions are

Many executives anticipate a slowing of

sales in the second half of the year but add signs of a widespread slowdown sire not yet evident.

Inventories remain near desired levels.

Auto sales contine to make a strong showing.

Gains largely

reflect the increased popularity of economy-size cars, although one

dealer notes that sales of "big cars are picking up again.

Inventories

of trucks and small cars are low.
Loans outstanding at District banks continued to climb at the
somewhat slower pace established earlier this year, but loan commitments
appear

to have risen sharply in March.

Much of the strength in lending

is centered in energy-related activities.
have quickened recently.

Consumer lending appears to

Most types of real estate lending also remain

strong, although some weakness in mortgage warehousing is noted.

Deposits

are showing essentially no growth.
Preliminary results from the quarterly survey of agribankers
suggest little overall change in agricultural credit conditions since the
first of the year.
loan demand.

Many rural banks report a normal seasonal weakness in

Banks continue to be very selective in making loan commit-

ments, and few are actively seeking new farm loan accounts.

One noticeable

change since the last survey is an apparent improvement in bank liquidity
in the High Plains region of Texas.

In addition to normal deposit growth

generated by crop sales in the first quarter, several agribankers in that
area note lending activity by the Farmers Home Administration and the
Small Business Administration has contibuted to an improvement in loan
repayment rates and to increased bank deposits.
Savings and loan associations report that mortgage lending remains
lackluster and deposit inflows are weak.

Some S&L's experienced net deposit

outflows in early April, apparently reflecting consumer cash needs to make
income tax payments.

Lower interest rates on money market certificates

caused an initial reduction in the level of those deposits, but most S&L's
report the effects have been relatively mild.

Manufacturers report steep increases in finished goods prices.
Although increases in wage rates are moderate, the growing shortage of
skilled labor is forcing labor costs up as many firms find it necessary
to start training programs.

Raw materials and intermediate-goods prices

continue to rise rapidly.
New factory orders are increasing at a moderate pace, and back
orders are heavy as capacity utilization remains high in most industries.
Although delivery times are lengthening, shortages of materials and parts
remain isolated.

Increases in new orders for machinery, textiles, and

apparel continue strong.

Bookings for drilling equipment and transportation

equipment remain at high levels, but some weakness is noted among
manufacturers of food service equipment.

Inventories generally remain

near desired levels.
New construction plans for manufacturing plants this year are not
expected to match last year's strong increase.

One area of potential

weakness is the petroleum processing industry where uncertainty over the
availability of feedstocks has cut into projected plant expansions.

How-

ever, if the production of chemicals continues to increase as it did in
the first quarter, construction in that industry could pick up appreciably.
Construction of electric generating plants is also slower this year than
last year.

An improved profit outlook for steel producers and fabricators

is expected to boost construction outlays to replace old facilities,
possibly as soon as late this year.

Construction spending by the paper

industry is also expected to increase sharply.
Discussions with small groups of businessmen reveal rising
resentment against the failure of Government to deal more effectively

with inflation.

The continued, onrush of Government regulation is another

very sensitive issue.

Declarations that they have stopped trying to comply

are heard, especially from small businesses.

TWELFTH DISTRICT - SAN FRANCISCO
A picture of general "good health" prevails in the western economy
with business strong across the board.

Commercial and non-residential

construction is moving ahead sharply, the forest products and aluminum
industries are booming, smaller-economy auto and truck sales are way up,
mobile home sales remain good, retails sales are very strong, dairy and
crop production yields and prices are higher, and employment is generally
good with unemployment low in most areas.
Several pressing problems do exist in the area of petro-chemicals
where the volatile Iranian situation and OPEC price increases have led to
oil/gas reductions, shortages and higher wholesale/retail prices.

It is

possible that the energy situation may affect food chain enterprises, fast
food restaurants, motels, tourism and other gas-related industries.

Though

tight, the situation is not yet disastrous in the West.
Inflation pressures continue to be felt, with overall loan demands
down slightly, money market certificates (MMC) exceeding expectations with
the interest-rate-conscious consumer public, and residential real estate
construction and sales declining as buyers continue resisting higher price
tags and high mortgage costs.

A particular exception to the downward trend

in housing is the Los Angeles County area, where the housing market is
thriving.

Residential building permits in the area are up a strong 17 percent,

as compared to the general decline of 11 percent in California.

Los Angeles

housing starts in both single- and multi-family dwellings have shown a
substantial increase in the entire first quarter of 1979.

Some analysts have expected supply bottle-necks to develop,
especially with the Teamsters Union and United Airlines strikes in progress,
but only minor spot shortages and difficulties in obtaining equipment and/or
materials have resulted to date.

While truck deliveries are taking longer,

it is usually a lack of stock-on-hand in all product lines that has
"lengthened" delivery times for manufacturers, distributors and local
contractors.

But, generally, delivery schedules have been this lengthy for

a long time, one director reported.

A fairly tight supply situation has

existed in such areas as office furniture, paper, trucks, truck accessories,
forklifts, and cement.

But other areas such as bank equipment, clothing,

and electronics products have had no supply problems ~
any.

and don't expect

If the strikes continue, it is expected that delivery schedules will

continue to lengthen and that shortages of materials could be created.
Spending on consumer durables in the West has been affected by
the high rate of inflation, high interest rates, decreases in disposable
income, current wage guidelines, petroleum shortages, and home construction
declines.

The demand for such items as recreational vehicles, power boats,

new furniture, rugs, and white goods is expected to be slow and sluggish
during the current year.

The longer the negative factors remain, the

greater the impact will be on future movement of consumer durables.
The Twelfth District, as expected, has experienced a shift of money
market certificates (MMC) accounts to banking institutions, following the
March 15th advent of regulatory changes that eliminated the rate differential
favoring thrift institutions.

But the limited data available for late March

do not guarantee that a major, long-term trend away from Savings & Loans
has occurred, when the data are compared with the weekly inflows of January,
February and early March 1979.

With some exceptions, there appears to have

been a gradual but steady increase in the rate of MMC growth in most banks
since March 15th.
The Farmers & Merchants Bank of Central California, which had
experienced a decline in the rate of MMC growth from January 1 through
March 15, reversed that trend dramatically following the regulatory changes.
Their MMC rate of increase for the last half of March was 109 percent greater
than the first half of the month.

Similarly, the First National Bank of North

Idaho reported that MMCs have had a significant impact on their March business
with MMCs representing 12.5 percent of their total time deposits and 21.8
percent of their total Time Certificates of Deposit, as compared to 11.6
percent and 20.3 percent in February.

Obviously commercial banks are

benefiting from being on equal terms with Savings & Loans and mutual savings
banks, with respect to the interest rate that can be paid on MMCs.

The loss

of competitive advantage by the thrift institutions is allowing banks to gain
a larger share of the IWIC market.

A continuing shift from regular passbook

savings into MMC instruments is expected.