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Prepared for the
Federal Open Market Committee
by the Staff

January 29, 1980

SUMMARY page i
First District-Boston page 1
Second District-New York page 5
Third District-Philadelphia page 8
Fourth District-Cleveland page 11
Fifth District-Richmond page 15
Sixth District-Atlanta page 18
Seventh District-Chicago page 22
Eighth District-St. Louis page 26
Ninth District-Minneapolis page 29
Tenth District-Kansas City page 32
Eleventh District-Dallas page 35
Twelfth District-San Francisco page 38

[Asterisk: Prepared at Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.]

This month's REDBOOK reports show total activity continuing to hold
at high levels, but softening is expected in the next several months.


weather in the North, in contrast to recent years, has influenced activity
both for better and worse.

Weakness is still centered in the auto and housing

industries and their satellites, while performance has been "spotty" or "mixed"
in other sectors.

Several districts reported retail sales, other than motor

vehicles, to be surprisingly strong both before and after Christmas.


of erosion in the generally vigorous capital goods industries are spreading.
Unlike housing, nonresidential construction activity has remained at advanced

Inventories are under close rein and are in good balance overall.

Price inflation has not abated.

The President's grain embargo has not de-

pressed prices as had been feared.

Defense orders have not increased signifi-

cantly to date, and manufacturers' ability to boost output is closely limited
in the short run.

Credit demands have moderated in the face of high interest

rates and tighter credit standards.
Generalizations offered by the twelve districts reflect trends in
the major concentrations of activity in each region.
"still see very few signs of a downturn."
"surprisingly resilient in January."

Boston respondents

New York reports activity

Philadelphia finds a contrast between

a decline in manufacturing and "unexpectedly strong" retail sales.


respondents "still expect a recession," but are less certain about "timing
and depth."

The Richmond district's businessmen remain "decidedly negative."

Atlanta reports weakness in retail sales, but a boom in tourism.


affected more than the nation by the slowdown, sees "further deterioration."

In St. Louis, the evidence suggests that total business activity has "declined
somewhat" in recent weeks.

Minneapolis reports that "the region is not in a

recession," but "signs of softening persist."
activity continues to slow."

Kansas City says "business

Dallas finds near-term weakness confined largely

to autos and housing, with sustained long-term growth apparently assured.
San Francisco reports "no major decline in employment or production."
Mild temperatures and light snowfalls in December and January contrasted with experience of recent years.

In the northern districts there were

few impediments to transportation of commodities and people, and construction
continued at abnormally high levels. As a result, retail sales and manufacturing may have been maintained at deceivingly high rates.

However, lack of snow

markedly reduced tourist outlays in resort areas. Winter merchandise had to be
moved with large markdowns.

Stocks of fuel for heating were more than ample.

Tourism in the South, by contrast, set new records.
Auto and truck sales remain seriously depressed, with most parts and
assembly plants operating far below capacity.

Some plants are being closed

Sales of imports and desirable small domestic cars are still

limited by availability.

Many auto dealerships have closed and there are fears

that many more will go under

before sales revive in the spring.

High interest

rates are a major burden for dealers carrying inventories and many potential
car buyers have been deterred by high finance charges and tighter lending
Residential construction activity and sales of existing properties
have declined further, with the end of the slide still not in sight.


recent suspension of state mortgage usury ceilings has not significantly

benefited states where usury was a barrier.

High interest rates, large down

payments, and high prices keep many potential buyers out of the market.


districts report considerable strength in nonresidential construction, especially office and commercial buildings.
of ethanol plants.

Atlanta expects a surge in building

In the mining sector coal gasification projects are under-

way, and precious metals are booming in the West under the stimulus of high
Capital equipment production continues at high levels, but this
sector probably is no longer expanding overall. Among the strongest groups
are machine tools, railroad equipment, energy-conserving equipment, items related to oil and gas exploration, electronics, and commercial aircraft. Among
the weaker groups are construction equipment, farm equipment, heavy trucks
and trailers.

Some districts expect a rise in defense orders, but expansion

of output will be limited by the availability of critical materials, various
components, and skilled workers.
Inventories at both the manufacturing and distribution levels have
been kept lean by adjustments in output, except for some products facing very
weak demand. inventories had appeared somewhat high before Christmas,

but special promotions helped to correct these conditions.
Reports from virtually all districts show inflation continuing at a
high rate, with no abatement expected in I98O.

Rising energy prices and rising

labor costs are largely responsible.
The farm sector is relatively prosperous because of bumper crops and
high prices.

However, the grain embargo has created a larger-than expected

stock overhanging the


Also, farm credit conditions are very tight,

causing some farmers to defer purchases of equipment and other investments.
The new two and one-half year floating rate certificates are proving
popular at both S&Ls and banks.

Six-month money market certificates continue

to expand at a rapid pace, and account for a larger volume of funds.
on the strength of business loan demand were mixed.



Respondents in the First District still see very few signs of a 'downturn.

If there has been a change in the level of economic activity during the

past month, it has been for the better.

Retail sales seem to have picked up

in the few days before Christmas and preliminary January figures have been quite
good compared with a year ago.

An important exception is northern New England

which is suffering from a lack of snow and consequently a lack of tourists.
Manufacturing activity remains at a high level; in several cases December was
stronger than expected.

In the banking sector, the movement from savings deposits

to money market certificates is continuing.

Loan demand is holding steady; in

northern New England delinquencies seem to have increased.
Respondents from the retailing sector report that sales in the last
few days before Christmas were good.

This pick up plus relatively strong

sales in the first weeks of January means that the Christmas season was relatively

To a large extent the vigorous sales before Christmas were attributable

to very large markdowns.

This had the effect of bringing inventories under control

and while it cut profit margins, a firm's inventory position seems to have more
influence on its short-run purchasing behavior than do profits.

In general

retailing in New England had a much stronger Christmas than seemed likely a
couple of months ago.
New England.

An important exception, however, is the ski areas of northern

There has been virtually no snow in New England and this has

adversely impacted not only the ski resorts themselves but also all the hotels,
stores, restaurants and specialty manufacturers which are associated with them.
Even if snow does come there is no way that the losses can be fully made up.
Even real estate has been affected as developers of second homes rely on skiers
coming up to see model homes.

The level of manufacturing activity remains high.

One diversified

manufacturer in the high technology area reports that December was very good
in all categories; even areas which had been doing poorly picked up.

A manu-

facturer of measuring equipment used in the process industries finds that orders
are continuing at a strong pace and backlogs are high; if the present order
rate continues this firm's 1980 plan will be revised upward.
of aircraft and parts, backlogs are rising steadily.
quality sportswear has record spring orders.

For a large producer

A manufacturer of high

An exception to the generally

favorable picture came from a firm in the furniture area; attendance at trade
shows is low and price cutting is fierce.

Moreover, even those respondents who

are very pleased with their current level of business
in the year.

expect a fall-off later

Prices do not seem to be softening, although there have been some

improvements in delivery lead times.
Several firms which are active in the defense business were asked
whether the industry could handle a large increase in spending.

The industry

as a whole has been below capacity; so physical capacity is not really a

The exception is in the manufacture of semi-conductors and chips;

the lead times for these are already long and with a substantial increase in
defense demand they could become "unbelievable."

The other major bottleneck

is labor; there are not enough people with the necessary skills, especially

While an increase in defense spending over what was already platmed

will have some effects in 1980, the real employment impact will not occur until
1981 and after.
Banking directors report that loan demand is holding steady at a
relatively high level.

Two respondents from northern New England have observed

an increase in delinquencies and as a consequence they are adding to their

reserves for bad debts.

This increase in overdue loans is thought to be

independent of the problems caused by lack of snow.

All see a steady conversion

of savings deposits to money market certificates.
Professors Eckstein, Houthakker, Samuelson, Solow, and Tobin
were available for comment this month.

Houthakker, Solow, and Tobin

favor leaving the long-term monetary growth rate targets unchanged,
Eckstein favors significant tightening, and Samuelson favors something
in between.
Solow argues that continuation of the present 5 to 8 percent
target rates for M2 provides ample room for monetary deceleration
should that prove warranted.

After analyzing the various reasons for

the drop in the savings rate, he noted that they are all probably transitory factors; further decline should not be expected and a sharp reversal
is also possible.

Tobin argued that if the objective of policy is to

produce a mild recession, a continuation of present policies is sufficient
to achieve that goal. However, he questioned the strategy of seeking a mild
recession which, he feels, will do little to reduce inflation very soon.
He had hoped for but not really expected a more vigorous incomes

Houthakker argues that by the best available measure, the GNP

fixed-weight deflator, inflation has been holding steady at about
10 percent.

Thus, real interest rates are positive—short-term rates

significantly and long-term rates slightly—and are "now about right."
Despite the wild gyrations in the price of gold, Houthakker notes that
the dollar has performed well and speculative activity lias not spilled

over into other markets.

He continues to believe that the appropriate

gold policy would be a major (5 million ounce) sale.
Eckstein favors a 4 to 7 percent target range for M2.
argues that ve need a recession to reduce inflation.


He has revised

his real GNP forecast upward because of higher defense spending and

If the first quarter growth is positive, he feels another

round of tightening will be unavoidable.

He feels policy should be

geared primarily to interest rates since the aggregates are currently
impossible to interpret.
Samuelson favors "token tightening" simply to short-circuit
the ideological contention that we must show determination to counter

In fact, the growth recession we are now in is producing the

appropriate amount of slack and a serious recession wtould be counterproductive.

If the economy strengthens, we should move to the low end of

the target range and run on the high side if it weakens.

The possibility

of a war is the most serious reason to expect the economy may strengthen.
Samuelson also urged paying little attention to sharp variations in metals
prices which are not a matter of national interest.

If the dollar should

weaken, Samuelson would welcome some overshooting on the downside, to
generate a little "excess competitiveness" for traded U.S. products.


Business activity in the Second District has been surprisingly
resilient in January, according to recent comments of District directors
and business leaders.

One of the brightest spots has been retail sales

which were generally substantially higher in the first three weeks of the
month than most respondents had expected.

Outside of retailing, business

activity also appears to be holding its own.

New brders at several indus-

tries posted modest recoveries after declining slightly in recent months;
and inventories seem to have been kept in line with shipments.

At the

same time, however, cost increases have cut into the profit margins of
some companies since they have been unable to raise their prices fully under
current market conditions.

Most respondents expect the Federal override

of state usury ceilings on mortgage interest rates to have little effect
on construction activity.
Retailers in the Second District generally experienced higherthan-expected sales in the first three weeks of January.


chalked up good to excellent gains in sales in downstate New York and in
New Jersey.

Stores in New York City appear to have done slightly better

than those in the suburbs.

Sales were mixed, however, in upstate New York.

While consumer buying reportedly was "brisk" in the Rochester area, it was
less sanguine in the Buffalo area.

Inventories seem in balance with sales,

with one major department store actually reporting them to be on the lean

In this vein, many of those retailers contacted noted a lengthening

in delivery times in some of their faster moving lines because suppliers
had been caught with low stocks.

Despite the healthy showing in recent

weeks, most retailers expect a weakening in sales in the months to come.
New car sales appear to have stabilized in the Second District with
small cars continuing to outsell large ones. At the same time, truck sales
are showing tentative signs of recovering from the doldrums of a few
months ago.

Despite the softness in certain automotive lines, domestic

dealers in this area report inventories are close to desired levels.


sharp contrast, foreign car dealers have apparently been unable to increase
their inventories which reportedly has hurt their sales.

Customers do not

appear to be kept out of the market by any tightening of credit.
Outside the consumer sector, business activity for most firms seems
to be holding steady or even improving slightly.

Two upstate manufacturers

of machine tools report that their orders and sales are continuing at high
levels, although one did note that inquiries concerning prospective orders
has tapered off a bit.

Also reporting gains in orders or sales were

companies in such diverse industries as chemicals, steel, and petroleum

One manufacturer of photographic equipment

indicated that its

sales had held up much better than it had been anticipated.

The strength

in consumption spending was cited by one upstate producer of paper boxes and
other packaging containers for consumer goods as buttressing his business

A few firms, however, do report that they have been hurt by

fall-offs in homebuilding and automobile sales.
Companies throughout the Second District report severe upward
pressure on their costs led by higher energy costs and rising labor costs.
One paper box producer, for example, reported that its costs had shot up
25 to 30 percent over the last six months.

Most other companies indicated

that their costs had increased by lesser amounts, on the order of 10 percent

per year.

The chemical companies contacted cited the rising cost of petroleum

as a key element of their costs.

In addition, labor costs have risen under

new contracts as well as under the COLA provisions of contracts negotiated

The higher cost pressures have led to price increases, but profit

margins remain under pressure.

Many firms are selling in weak markets and

have been limited in their ability to raise their prices.

Some firms,

such as those in the photographic field, have been forced by the extraordinary
explosion in certain commodity prices to raise their prices significantly
just to cover costs.

These firms may therefore be facing a particularly

difficult period.
Despite price uncertainties, the longer-term outlook for firms is
not unfavorable.

There is some feeling that recent speculative fever in

commodity markets may have run its course, and oil supplies seem to be
coming into balance with demand.

Nevertheless, most firms still expect a

recession early this year with a recovery later in the year.
spending plans have not been reduced.

Still, capital

Further strength in the local economy

may come from the projected boosts in defense spending.
The temporary Federal override of state usury ceilings on mortgage
interest rates is expected to result in only a limited increase in homebuilding activity.

Several respondents felt that consumers simply could not

afford the high costs of debt service.

The amount of turnover in housing,

how&ver, was expected to rise as a result of increased availability of
mortgage funds.

Reports from the Third District in January indicate that business activity i

Representatives of the industrial sector report continued decline in

manufacturing and predict further slippage in the next six months. Retailers, on the
other hand, are experiencing unexpectedly strong sales this month. In the financial
sector, area bankers say consumer loan demand has been strong, but business borrowing i
mixed. Interest rates have stabilized for the time being, but will probably drop slightly
in thefirsthalf of the year.
Respondents to this month's Business Outlook Survey say the '80s have begun
with further slippage in area manufacturing.

About one-third of the manufacturers

polled this month say general business conditions are worse than they were in December,
while less than a tenth report improvement. In terms of specific indicators, new orders
are down again in January, but shipments have remained stable.

So, once again,

producers' backlogs have diminished, and a commensurate cut in inventories i noted. On
the jobs scene, payrolls have been pared slightly at area plants for the first time since
the slump began some seven months ago, and many managers have cut working hours
somewhat as well.
Looking ahead to the next six months, responding manufacturers predict
further decay of general business conditions, as they've ?been doing since December "78.
New orders are expected to increase only marginally between now and July, while a more
significant pickup in shipments i forecast. The cautious mood of the respondents i
reflected in their plans to maintain current inventory positions for a white and hold the

line on hiring as well. Working hours will probably be trimmed fractionally in coming
Industrial prices are on the upswing again in January, according to survey
participants. Over three-quarters of the manufacturers polled this month report paying
higher prices for inputs than they did last month, and well over one-third say they are
charging more for their finished products. For the longer term, almost 9 out of 10
respondents expect the cost of raw materials to be higher by midsummer, while about 8
out of 10 plan price hikes by that time for the goods they produce.
Area bankers contacted in January report strong consumer loan demand, but
say business borrowing i mixed. Commerical loans are running between 1 and 19 percent
ahead of January '79 levels, but are generally below plan. A Director of this Bank
comments that inquiries about business loans are numerous, but that actual followthroughs are relatively few. Looking ahea<T to the next six months, most bankers are
anticipating a dip in business loans, as the economy in general slows down.
Interest rates appear to have stabilized, at least temporarily, in the Third
District. The prime rate . t all of the banks contacted remains at 15 1/4 percent,
unchanged from its mid-November level. Projections of the prime call for a drop of
about 100 basis points over the next six months, followed by further cuts which will leave
the rate at about 12 1/4 percent by year-end.
Bankers say that deposit flows are adequate in January, but that the effect of
the new two and a half year floating rate certificate i less than they'd hoped. Although
response to the new instrument has been quick and enthusiastic, the certificates are
attracting little new money, with as much as 75 percent of the funds used to buy them
coming from other time deposits at the issuing bank. The minimum denomination on the
certificates i generally $500.

Mortgages are s i l being made by banks in the District, with a good deal of
nonprice rationing observed. Bankers say they have not seen, thus far, any improvement
in the mortgage market as a result of the suspension of state usury ceilings effective
January 1.
Area retail activity has remained strong thus far in January. Merchants
report current dollar sales of 8 to 10 percent over year-ago figures, which is better than
they anticipated. After strong Christmas sales in December, most merchants expected a
slump as consumers became more cautious about their spending, but no curtailment has
been observed as yet. Inventories are in "very good shape" because sales have been so
much better than expected. No serious shortages have been reported.
Area retailers are cautiously optimistic about the next six months.


anticipated recession i overdue at this point, and the merchants contacted feel that i a
slowdown does come, i may be only slight. They are not really anticipating any cutback,
though, until late in the second quarter.


Most respondents in the Fourth District still expect a recession in
1980, but are less certain over the timing and depth than they were in recent

Retail sales in December and early January, especially of non-

durables goods continue to be somewhat better than expected, apparently in
response to heavy sales promotions.

Auto sales have picked up in the early

weeks of January, although most respondents expect production in the first
quarter to remain weak.

Fixed investment, except automotive, continues to

be a major source of strength in the economy, despite some loss of momentum
noted by capital goods producers.

Housing demand is weak, and S&Ls report

adequate funds to meet current levels of demand despite some decline in
savings flows into thrift institutions.
Some economists are skeptical of recently reported estimates of
consumption expenditures and retail sales for December.
uncertain about the timing of a recession.

They are therefore

In view of unexplained behavior

by consumers, some now feel a recession will be shallow and brief.

A retail

economist attributes much of the strength in retail sales to widespread
promotions, which should continue to support sales through January.


discount stores in Ohio did not do as well as those department stores that
cut prices, according to an area retailer, and sales of smaller merchants were
off 2%-3% from year-earlier levels.

A consumer goods producer believes that

durable goods sales have flattened because appliance prices have been rising
below the rate of inflation, which lessons the buy-1n-ndvance behavior of

A major appliance producer reports sales are holding up better

than expected, and that dealers in some areas report spot shortages of ranges

refrigerators and a surplus of dishwashers.

Sales of nondurable goods

appear to have benefited from the slow growth in durables and
lower-than-expected energy bills.

An area clothing producer reports no

drop in orders yet and expects sales to remain relatively strong for the
next five months.

Growth in real sales of food has slowed, according to an

economist with a food store chain, in contrast to a decline in sales of fastfood restaurants.

He expects food price increases in 1980 to be in the 8%-9%

range because of reduced demand associated with slower growth in disposable

and improved supplies, except for beef.
Consumer buying of autos has picked up after several weeks of weakness,

but production is expected to remain depressed until inventories are in better

A local auto dealer reports January auto sales have risen 10% from

December, but are still below January 1979.

Reasons for the increased sales

range from advanced-buying brought on by the mild winter to increased supplies
of X-body cars.

However, an auto economist reports that dealers are ordering

cars without special features for faster turnover.
car sales to be somewhat above 9.2 million in 1980.

He expects total new
A tire economist reports

that sales were poor in the fourth quarter of 1979, and expects that the
first quarter of 1980 will continue to be weak

both in the original

equipment and replacement markets.
Fixed investment should continue to be strong at least through the
first half of 1980.

One official expects the strength in capital spending to

come from relatively good profits and high utilization rates among most
industries, especially aerospace and petroleum.

An economist with an aluminum

producer states that capital spending in that industry remains strong.


capital goods supplier notes weakness in agricultural and heavy construction

machinery, and a steel economist states their order pattern suggests that
electrical and non-electrical machinery industries may be losing some

However, several respondents note a change in the underlying

factors affecting capital spending which make it less susceptible to cyclical

Investments are more short-term because of increased uncertainty;

many are limited to replacement for cost-saving in labor and energy which
have a quick pay-off; and many are mandated by government regulations.
Defense spending will eventually boost economic activity, but several defense
subcontractors expect little significant upward thrust for most of this year.
Defense goods suppliers are concerned that a skilled labor shortage and
severe capacity constraints will hold down real spending for defense from
the Administration's proposed 5.8% increase this year.

An electronics producer

cites bottlenecks in computer chips and aluminum castings that will stretch
out production and delivery schedules.
Housing starts in December held up better than expected, but several
S&L officials and economists attribute the strength to a record level commitments
built up earlier in 1980.
housing numbers.

Moreover, a mild winter may be distorting the

An S&L official states that the seasonal adjustment may

have overstated actual starts in December and may understate strength in

One S&L official expects a drop in starts below 1.5 million units

in January.

He cites a persistent decline in sales of new and used houses that

will lead to a drop in starts this quarter.

Mortgage funds are generally

available to meet the present low level of demand.
housing is attributed to weak demand.

Most of the weakness in

Therefore, several mortgage lenders

have lowered their mortgage interest rates in recent weeks.

Officials do not

expect rates to fall much below 12^% because of the high cost of funds

associated with the steadily rising proportion of deposits held in savings
certificates and "jumbo" CDs.

One S&L official estimates profit margins

for most S&L associations at 1% or lower and slipping fast.

Some S&Ls

expect to show losses during the first quarter of 1980, and one S&L official
expects 1980 to be the "toughest" year for thrifts in the post-World War II


Business conditions continue spotty in the Fifth District.


facturers surveyed this month have, on balance, experienced further weakening
of new orders, reduced order backlogs, and a resumption of inventory accumulation.

There is little indication, however, that these conditions are per-

vasive or, in fact, that they represent the underlying trend.

Our directors,

for instance, see little evidence that demand for the products of firms in
their areas has slackened further in the past month.

Nonetheless, the expecta-

tions of District businessmen remain decidedly negative.
softened in recent weeks.

Retail sales have

Indications are that wholesale and retail credit

demands have also moderated.

Most lenders hold the view that, in the near-

term at least, loan growth will continue to slow.
Despite the continuing weakness in new orders, Fifth District manufacturers were able to maintain the level of shipments over the past month.
More than 40 percent of the respondents to our survey of manufacturers reported
a decline in the volume of new orders over the past month and nearly as many
experienced further reductions in order backlogs.
suggest a resumption of inventory accumulation.
additions to stocks took place in materials.
to have risen relative to desired levels.

Survey respondents also
Apparently most of the

Also, inventories appear not

The number of respondents viewing

current stocks as excessive has remained fairly stable for several months now.
The view that current plant and equipment capacity might be in excess has
become slightly more widespread recently, but rdmains a minority position.
There is still virtually no sentiment for altering current expansion plans,

Employment and weekly hours worked both declined among our manu-

facturing respondents over the latest survey period.

Most of our directors have seen little or no improvement in conditions
in their respective areas over the past month.

Nonetheless, they report some

industries, e.g., textiles, electronics, printing, food processing, continuing
to show some buoyancy.

The directors continue to cite weakness in residential

real estate, automobiles, and some related areas such as construction, primary
metals, and glass.

Despite what is apparently perceived as a lack of any

real strength, our directors are unaware of any significant layoffs, unwanted
inventory accumulation, production retrenchments or other evidence of slackening
Retail sales have softened slightly in the past few weeks, but general
merchandise lines such as those in department stores continue to hold up.


ticket items and home improvement lines arc contributing significantly to the broad
weakness in total sales.

Retailers have apparently reduced their Inventories

somewhat and there do not seem to be any serious problems in this area.


responses suggest that there may be some significant price cutting taking place
at the retail level.
Despite the view among district lenders that loan growth will continue
to slow, few expect interest rates to decline by any substantial amount.


has been the case for sometime, consumer demand for personal loans is offsetting
weakness in other areas, but this source of strength is not as great as it has

The larger business customers of banks have been very quiet.


continues to be a steady flow of smaller sized business loan requests, but
only in a very few cases have lenders seen firms seeking financing for unusual
inventory buildups.

In some areas, e.g., Maryland, industrial revenue bond

financing for plant improvements is an important source of funds.
Area lenders are beginning to see some signs of retrenchment on the
part of consumers insofar as the use of credit is concerned, but the picture

here is far from clear.

Credit card volume, which is still growing due to

Christmas related expenditures, remains strong.

A number of banks, however,

have commented on signs of weakness in installment loan demand.

Moreover, this

developing weakness appears to be broadly based and not due exclusively to
slower automobile sales.

There has been some mention recently of increased

applications for second mortgage loans to be used for bill consolidation.
Residential mortgage

financing is slowing, due largely to decreased willingness

on the part of borrowers to pay high rates.

The market has softened to such

an extent that in some areas rates have come down 1/4 - 1/2 percentage points
from their peak levels.
With both crop and livestock receipts significantly larger, the
District's total cash farm income during the third quarter of 1979 registered
a 16 percent gain over a year earlier.

The District improvement, which com-

pared with a 14 percent upturn nationally, may well be somewhat lower at yearend 1979, however, because of the sharply smaller tobacco and peanut crops.


Residential construction continued to falter, but commercial and
industrial construction held firm.

Retail sales, other than autos, moved

The slump in automobile sales abated due to expanding sales of

domestic and foreign compacts.
for Florida looks bright.

Loan demand remained weak.

Winter tourism

Ethanol production began its ascent, and northern

Alabama was chosen as the site for a multibillion dollar coal gasification

Gold Kist officials are not optimistic regarding clearance for a

massive poultry shipment to Russia.
Retail sales, excluding automobiles, declined, with nominal sales
about equal to year-ago levels.

A property manager at a large Nashville mall

observed normal clearance sales and promotional activity compared to recent

The majority of his tenants have reduced inventory volumes 10 to 15

percent below last year's level due to an expected lackluster first quarter.
He believes an unusually large number of customers reached their credit
limits and that credit rejections were higher.

A property manager at another

Nashville mall reported sales were slower, traffic was less than normal,
sales and promotions were greater, and fewer trucks delivered goods.


ing to its management, a Fort Lauderdale area mall experienced sales levels
equal to last year, helped considerably by markdowns.
The downturn in automobile sales appeared to level off.
unit sales were stable.


Demand for smaller cars grew more intense and ac-

counted for the bulk of sales.

Fuel-efficient domestic autos sold well, and

some foreign car dealers described their sales as fantastic.

For example, a

Honda dealer said sales have taken off, with twice the number of sales

compared to last January.

A Nashville Chrysler dealer noticed a dramatic

rise in sales after Chrysler's Federal loan guarantee was approved, while a
Montgomery Chrysler dealer reported a moderate increase.

Many dealers ob-

served a sizable increase in consumer loan denials by finance companies.
Also, many potential customers who own large cars are not buying because
their outstanding loan balances are greater than the value of their rapidly
depreciating fuel-inefficient vehicles.

Most dealers believe the price of

gasoline has become at least as important as availability when purchasing
decisions are made by customers.
Single-family residential construction remained weak throughout the
District, except in the Mobile area, where rebuilding from Hurricane
Frederic's destruction in September created a construction boom.


construction was viewed as poor in Jacksonville, off sharply in Baton Rouge,
nonexistent in northern Alabama, and at a standstill in central Alabama and
southern Mississippi.

A south Florida banker reported almost no new construc-

tion of lower priced homes favored by younger families.
An appreciable slowdown in sales of existing homes was evident in
Birmingham, Nashville, Baton Rouge, and southern Mississippi.
of more expensive homes in most of southern Florida were brisk.

However, sales

directors from that area noted a large number of wealthy individuals continued
to purchase expensive retirement homes.

Also, a notably increased proportion

of sales to retirees involved only cash or very large downpayments.
Districtwide, commercial and industrial building provided considerable support to the construction sector.

In Jacksonville and Atlanta,

contractors enjoyed a backlog of current projects.

Heavy construction

remained active in Birmingham but at a slower pace vis-a-vis recent months.

In southern Mississippi, commercial construction held up fairly well, and it
expanded in New Orleans.

Industrial construction continued strong in Baton

Rouge, where reasonably brisk activity was expected.

However, most industry

contacts believe few major projects will be undertaken until long-term interest
rates subside.
Overall, loan demand continued to sag.

A central Florida and a

northern Alabama banker reported a substantial drop in loan demand.


loan growth and weak deposit growth were reported by a Jacksonville banker.
A south Florida banker commented on a significant downward trend in retail
lending due to high interest rates that caused consumers to defer purchases
of more expensive items.
The District's emerging alternate fuels industry was bolstered by
numerous developments.

Construction is expected to begin soon on two alcohol

fuel (ethanol) plants in southern Louisiana which will use agricultural
biomass to produce over 20 million gallons annually.

Plans for building

ethanol facilities in Jacksonville and Tampa were disclosed, as were future
plans to construct plants in Orlando, Miami, and Pensacola.

A Federal grant

to support development of ethanol production at a distillery in southeastern
Georgia was approved.
The chairman of TVA announced the selection of northern Alabama as
the site for the agency's $2-billion coal gasification complex.

The northern

section of the state was chosen because of its accessibility to Alabama arid
western Kentucky coal and the demand for gas in the area.
be decided upon by October 1980.

An exact site will

Also, the TVA embarked on large-scale

efforts to provide low-priced solar homes within its region and to build the
nation's first coal-based fuel cell power plant.

Tourism in Florida is expected to be very good this winter.


contact from the Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area reported reservations
well ahead of comparable 1979 figures.

Attendance at central Florida attrac-

tions is strong, occasionally reaching saturation levels.
there are enjoying near-record occupancy rates.

Hotels and motels

And the Kennedy Space Center

is experiencing its best season.
Retaliatory trade restrictions against Russia are likely to produce
a major impact on District poultry farmers and Gold Kist, an Atlanta-based
agricultural cooperative.

A huge shipment of frozen chickens, representing

about 2 percent of U. S. annual poultry production, was delayed pending the
granting of an export license, an increasingly unlikely prospect, according
to a Gold Kist executive.


The Seventh District has been affected more than the nation by the
slowing in activity.

Further deterioration is expected.

Output and sales of

motor vehicles and recreational goods remain weak with no reversal in sight.
Capital goods production, overall, probably has passed its peak.
ments have been generous.

Wage settle-

Price inflation has not moderated, except for

temporary bargains on items in excess supply.

Except for depressed sectors,

inventories are of moderate size in both manufacturing and retailing.


grain embargo has not had the adverse effect on prices that had been feared.
Although mortgage terms have eased, the drop in the housing sector is still

Credit remains available, but at high rates, and with more careful

screening of applicants.

The crisis in Chicago's municipal finances appears

more serious as additional information is forthcoming.
Although most of the information presented in this report is negative,
total output, employment, and sales remain at high levels.
expects a broad, deep recession.

Virtually nobody

Large order backlogs in some industries and

a heavy volume of contracts for nonresidential construction will keep activity
at high levels in these sectors into the second half of 1980.

Moreover, except

for a widely publicised case, there is little evidence of defaults on loans
or other commitments.
Purchasing managers in both Chicago and Milwaukee (the major producers
of capital goods) reported a significant deterioration in output, new orders,
backlogs, and employment starting in December.

Surveys of the outlook for the

new year are the most pessimistic since December 197^.
Business leaders are deeply concerned about inflation.

There is a

widespread tendency to applaud the Federal Reserve's firm position, but without
any conviction that the rate of inflation will slow significantly.
The growing expectation that defense outlays will rise significantly
has not had any impact on the outlook here.
factor in this district.

Military orders are a very small

Moreover, there is no evidence that increased mili-

tary orders will be forthcoming in the near future, and few companies are
anxious to obtain such contracts.
Weather continues favorable, particularly in comparison with each of
the last three years.

There have been no problems with fuel, transport, or

ability of workers to get to their jobs or to stores.

As a result, January

may appear more robust in year-to-year comparisons than is truly the case.
Moreover, there will be no "bounce back" as the weather improves, such as
occurred in each of the past three years.
The motor vehicle industry, centered in Michigan, continues to be the
major problem area.

Layoffs and plant closings, some temporary, have continued

at the vehicle producers and their suppliers of components.

Demand for tires,

batteries, and other replacement items is also off. More dealerships have
closed and there is serious concern that this trend will accelerate before
the spring selling season.
Other industries hit by high fuel prices and concerns over availability are RVs, boats and motors, and restaurants.

High beef prices have played

a role in the poor results of some fast food outlets.

Some have closed.

Steel shipments are expected to decline 3 or U percent this year, but
activity may remain near current levels—about 8l percent of capacity.
for motor vehicles, orders have remained at good rates.
are low and lead times are very short.


Customer inventories

Among the capital goods that have showed weakness starting in late
1979 are farm equipment, construction equipment, and trucks and trailers.
Heavy backlogs for machine tools and railroad equipment appear firm for the
time being. A number of producers of capital goods and other multinationals
report foreign sales to be stronger than domestic sales.
Retailers had stocked ample quantities of warm clothing, galoshes,
skiing equipment, snowblowers, and other winter goods.

Sales of these items

have been very poor because of the mild, virtually snowless winter.

In recent

wedks discounts ranging up to 50 percent have helped to move excess stocks.
Aside from the depressed items, retail sales are said to be relatively

Credit has continued to be used freely with no significant increase in

The business slowdown has not caused unions to moderate their demands.
The strike at International Harvester over mandatory overtime that started
November 1 is still on, with no serious move by either side toward an early

Oil refinery workers struck after turning down a 9 percent

increase, but refineries can be operated for a long time by supervisory personnel. A Chicago news truck drivers' strike was settled for a 16.U percent
boost (retroactive) to $H26 per week.

Tank truck drivers settled for a 1 3 ^

percent rise after losing a strike for a full COLA.
to strike if the school term is cut to save cash.

Chicago teachers threaten

Chicago firemen also are

threatening a strike to get a contract, despite generous compensation.
The grain embargo has caused a backup in the "pipeline" moving grain
to the ports.

The strain on transportation is giving way to underutilization.

Corn Belt farmers and bankers had feared much lower grain prices.
after the initial drop, prices recovered to pi'e-embargo levels.


The large

carryover of grain stocks resulting from record crops will continue to overhang
the market, because no large orders are anticipated from non-Communist countries.

Diversion of grain to alcohol production is strictly limited in the

near term by the capacity of distilleries which is fully utilized.
District farmland values rose 2 percent in the fourth quarter, down
from 6 percent in the third quarter, and the smallest rise since late 1977.
At year end district farmland values were lk percent higher than a year
earlier, and four times as high as 10 years earlier.
Mortgage terms have eased somewhat.

The going rate in the Chicago

area on 20 percent loans is now 12^ percent plus


Loans are readily

available to good risks, but many potential buyers have pulled out of the

S&Ls have been repaying borrowings in some cases.

People desiring

to sell homes have been advised to use land contracts, conditional sales,
second mortgages, and other devices, but such transactions are not popular
with sellers who wish to realise the full cash price.


Business activity in the Eighth District appears to have declined
somewhat in recent weeks.

Although the automobile and housing sectors led

the decline, a number of associated industries are beginning to experience
reduced sales and orders.

On the other hand, capital goods production and

nonresidential construction remain relatively strong and, in some
instances, continue to increase.

Among those capital goods experiencing

strong demand are products used for energy conservation purposes, oil and
gas exploration, and aerospace and defense.

In the financial sector, net

inflows of savings have been quite modest in recent weeks as competition
from other instruments, such as money market funds, has been acute.
Mortgage interest rates have increased to 12-1/2 percent or more and the
number of mortgage loans made in recent weeks is reported to have decreased.
Department store sales since the year-end have been about the same
as a year ago after adjustment for inflation, but such sales data are not
quite comparable since weather has been significantly better this year.
Retailers are guarded about prospects for sales, with most retailers
expecting no improvement before mid-year.

Automobile sales remain

substantially below a year ago, and car dealers report that the trend
toward more gas-efficient cars continues.

A foreign car dealer noted,

however, that the waiting list has declined for some gas-efficient models
from as much as six months last summer to about six weeks currently.
Manufacturing activity in the District is mixed.


manufacturing has been the hardest hit of the major industries in terms of
layoff of workers.

In the St. Louis area, where automobile and truck

assembly activities are very important, the work force at the end of
January is estimated to be down 40 percent from a year ago*


of business activity was also reported in many auto-related industries,
such as auto frames, carburetors, brakes, piston rings, etc.

On the other

hand, it was reported that some types of consumer tools, such as chain saws
and various do-it-yourself tools, are in great demand.

Also, suppliers of

the residential construction industry believe that the decline in home
building will have a major impact on their business in the near future.
Some other manufacturers of consumer durables, such as appliances, reported
that demand has fallen.
Inventories at retail stores have generally been kept at desired
levels as excess stocks have been quickly removed by sales promotions.
Inventories of most appliances are at desired levels, with the exception of
room air conditioners.
Demand for nondurable products has been affected less than durable
products, yet some declines have occurred in this sector.

Demand for

domestically produced apparel and shoes has slowed, partly due to
increasing foreign competition.

A boxboard manufacturing representative

noted a decline in orders in recent weeks which has led to some layoff of

The biggest drop in boxboard orders has been from manufacturers

of automobiles parts.
Capital goods production remains the strongest area of
manufacturing activity.

Farm equipment is experiencing increasing demand,

a reflection of the strong farm income in 1979.

However, such demand may

diminish later in the year if the expected decline in 1980 farm income

Another area of strength is defense-related goods.

Major defense

contractors reported that production increases are likely in 1980 based on
a high level of orders and the prospect of increased defense spending.


aircraft industry has experienced a strong demand for commercial aircraft.
Other products with strong demand include energy-efficient motors, welding
and cutting equipment, gas and oil drilling equipment, telecommunication
products, and data processing equipment.
Nonresidential building remains at a high level in the District
whereas residential building has declined further and is now at a virtual
standstill over much of the District.

Several major commercial and

government projects in the St. Louis area are expected to get under way in
1980, including a major office building, hotel, and waterway project.
While contractors are fairly optimistic that a high level of activity can
be maintained through mid-year because of a backlog of projects, they
expect a slowing later in the year as these projects are completed.
Representatives of financial intermediaries report that strong
competition from money market funds is having a sizable impact on the net
inflows of funds.

Saving and loan officials report only modest increases

in net savings in recent weeks, although the new 2-1/2 year certificates
have been received better than expected.

The bulk of new funds, however,

continues to be the six-month money market certificates.


Although the district has been jolted by the grain embargo, agricultural conditions remain good, industrial activity is continuing to expand,
and employment is still climbing.

Thus, the region is not in a recession.


signs of softening persist, as consumers remain hesitant to spend, new orders
continue to weaken, and loan requests are still declining.

Despite embargo, ag conditions remain good . . .
Many farmers feared that the embargo would lower grain prices.


embargo, they felt, would depress this year's demand for grain and possibly
result in the permanent loss of an important export market.

The government's

agreement to purchase the embargoed grains helped ease their fears about demand
in early 1980, but not about the possible loss of a large market.

In addition,

many farmers feared that the embargoed grains could be returned to the market
later this year, when they were marketing their 1980 crops, or during the next
several years.

Thus, the possibility of both lower demand and higher supplies

was foreseen depressing prices.
Grain prices are still high, although farmers' fears of lower prices
could still be realized.

Prices could still fall because of uncertainties about

how our government and the Soviet Union will deal with the embargo.

So far,

however, the government's measures to shore up demand and hold grain supplies off
the market appear to be working.

Although both cash and future prices for grains

fell in response to the confusion that followed the embargo's announcement, they
have now returned to their preembargo levels.
High agricultural

prices have been complemented



large harvests, harvests that have exceeded earlier expectations.


For example,

Minnesota's 1979 corn harvest, the state's second largest, ended up 6 percent
above November's estimate.

With grain prices high and crops larger than antici-

pated, district agricultural conditions continue to be good.

. . . industrial activity and employment also are still good . . .
Along with good agricultural conditions, strong industrial activity
and employment gains continue to keep the district out of a recession.

Our last

Redbook report indicated that district industrial activity was strong and that
employers were adding workers.

These conditions haven't changed.

At their

January meeting, this Bank's directors reported that industrial activity was
still growing

in their communities.


this growth,


advertising in Minneapolis/St. Paul papers in January was still high, so employment appears to be still expanding.




These gains in employment are not being






remained low in early January.


but signs of softening persist.
Even though the district is not in a recession, the signs of softening

that our Redbook report noted last month still persist:








consumers are hesitant













"spotty," "steady," or "down" to describe their area's general merchandise sales
in early January.

They also indicated

that consumers are very reluctant to

purchase homes and cars.
This reluctance to spend has made retailers hesitant to expand their
inventories and is contributing to a continued Slackening in new orders.


Minneapolis/St. Paul director reported that several Twin Cities manufacturers

have had fewer new orders than in recent months, and a director from the Upper
Peninsula of Michigan had a similar report.
The letup in new orders and consumers' reluctance to spend are resulting in fewer loan requests at district financial institutions.

Bank directors

indicated that in early January business and consumer loan requests were down at
commercial banks.

Likewise, the Savings League of Minnesota reported that in

early January mortgage loan requests were down 50 percent from a year ago at
Minneapolis/St. Paul area S&Ls.


Inflation remains strong in the Tenth District while business
activity continues to slow.

Purchasing agents report suppliers have recently

increased prices for material inputs and further increases are expected in
the near future.

Retailers report good January sales performance due to mild

winter weather, but expect sales over the coming year to increase by less than
the increase in retail prices.

The recently imposed grain embargo has pro-

duced uncertainty in area grain markets and the resulting decrease in
marketings has produced cash flow difficulties for many farmers.

Loan demand

is moderate in most areas of the District while deposit growth is reported to
be moderate to strong.
Purchasing agents contacted in the Kansas City District report input
prices have increased by 10 per cent or more over the past year.


purchasing agents indicate that suppliers have raised prices within the past
three months, and all expect further price increases over the next three

With the exception of the aircraft and electronics industries,

input availability is not a major problem in the District, nor is it expected
to become one during coming months.
The majority of purchasing agents report that material inventories
are to be kept low during the next several months because of high interest
rates and a pessimistic outlook for the economy.

About half the companies

contacted will need to further trim their inventories to reach their desired
lower levels.

The majority of firms contacted indicated that they were

operating at about normal capacity for this time of year.

Labor is in

adequate supply in the District, although a shortage of skilled labor continues
to exist in Wichita and Colorado Springs.
Most retailers contacted report that sales during January are 6 to 20
per cent higher than a year ago, mostly as a result of mild weather which has
encouraged shopping.

Most retailers expect sales to increase between 5 and 8

per cent during 1980, while retail prices are expected to grow by 10 per cent
or more.

Inventories are currently at satisfactorily low levels, and are

expected to be kept at low levels by means of continued winter clearance sales.
The embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union is having short-term
effects upon Tenth District agriculture.

Area grain markets are nearly at a

standstill, because of farmers' unwillingness to sell until some of the current
price uncertainty is resolved.

Transportation problems are being exacerbated

as grain backs up from port elevators to local grain elevators.

Shortages of

grain storage facilities are occurring in many areas and wet grain is compounding storage problems.
Many farmers are experiencing cash flow difficulties.
due that were to be paid by receipts from grain marketings.

Loans are now

Agricultural banks

are finding it difficult to meet the increased demand for loans and extensions
because of slow deposit growth at many rural banks.

Machinery and new equipment

dealers are also feeling the impact of the embargo, as orders for new equipment
are being canceled by farmers concerned about 1980 income prospects.


yields may decrease in the 1980 crop year as farmers reduce fertilizer purchases
and use more crop rotation.
The District's 1980 winter wheat crop production is heavily dependent
upon weather conditions during the next two months.

Wheat seedlings did not

achieve enough growth during the fall to adequately protect the topsoil.

Lack of snow cover coupled with strong winds has led to erosion of topsoil in
many areas and loss of some planted acreage.
at the present time due to recent rainfall.

Moisture levels are sufficient
Snowfall is needed both for

moisture and as protection against extremely cold weather.
Loan demand is moderate in most areas of the Tenth District.


lending rates and usury ceilings are limiting real estate, business, and
automobile loans.

However, growth in agricultural loans remains relatively

strong, in part because the embargo on grain exports to the Soviet Union is
causing increased demand for loans to finance inventories of wheat and corn.
Lending rates have been relatively stable in the past month and are generally
expected to remain stable for the next several weeks.
Most of the bankers contacted for the January survey report moderate
or strong deposit growth.
the deposit growth.

Money market CD's continue to account for most of

However, the 2 1/2-year floating rate CD's are also

attracting substantial funds.


The economy
strong underpinning

of the Eleventh District enters

the eighties on a

that promises sustained, long-term growth.


in the near term apparently will confined largely to auto sales and residential construction, while dollar sales at department stores are likely
to slow.

Increased oil field activity and nonresidential





to the economy


this year.


rates has stymied home mortgage lending.





to high




Bank loan demands are running

slightly ahead of normal for this time of year, while agricultural loans
at rural banks declined slightly last quarter.
The dollar volume of department store sales in the Eleventh District

is about 18 percent above

brought shopping

to a standstill.

sales exceeded

the level a year ago when bad weather
And retail executives indicate post-



in South Texas are being

bolstered by a heavy influx of northern tourists and increased buying by
Mexican nationals.

Retail inventories are trim.

Most retailers expect a

slowing trend in sales for the next six months and are ordering conservatively for spring and summer.
New car sales may have bottomed out at the low level recorded in
December, according to dealers surveyed.
to be a drag on sales.


Tight credit conditions continue

Our respondents suggest sales are 15 to 35 percent






Auto inventories remain higher than desired, but improved
popular domestic models are helping to keep stocks up.



deliveries of

Most dealers fore-

cast a pickup in sales this spring, especially if credit conditions ease.




the strength

to increase

is centered

in most manufacturing

in building


materials, machinery

metals; but food and apparel production is also on the rise.


The only

areas of weakness are auto assemblies and refining.

Refinery runs con-

tinue to decline with weakening demand and improved

inventory levels of

finished products.

A prolonged strike by the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic

Workers union could eventually impact on refinery output.









could increase substantially their current average rate of capacity utilization if defense spending


is boosted.




However, all cited

the materials



stages of production if expenditures were Increased rapidly.


is off

to a fast start this year because of

favorable weather and high product prices.

The average rotary drilling

rig count in the nation is forecast to rise about 12 percent, and the number of wells completed is expected to increase about 7 percent.


oil field activity has created a continued shortage of experienced drilling crews.
Construction activity shows little sign of slowing.

Much of the

increase in activity this year will be for such heavy construction projects as highways;

earthwork, waterways, and





irrigation; and water and




should also post strong gains, while residential and small business construction projects should slip further.
The mortgage market in Texas is at a standoff.

Buyer resistance

to the prevailing 13-percent mortgage rate is stiff, and some S&L's have

begun to back down from that rate.

Loan activity is not expected to pick

up substantially until buyers are offered a more acceptable rate, and the
S&L's increase their liquidity by selling loans in the secondary market.
New savings inflows at S&L's continue to run below seasonal norms.





mortgage activity


in some Texas

cities, but those funds were exhausted quickly.
Total borrowings at District member banks quickened at year-end,
but business loans at large banks remain soft—especially

goods manufacturing,

trade, and services.

to customers in

Deposits at large

banks are growing slightly faster than normal for this time of year, and
liquidity is not a problem.
Our January survey of rural bankers indicates
has eased somewhat since October.
particular, are down.

farm loan demand

Requests for feeder cattle loans, in

Higher interest costs may have contributed

apparent decline in cattle feeding activity.

to the

On average, Interest rates

charged for short-term farm operating and feeder cattle loans at survey
banks increased
quarter of 1979.

about one and one-half



in the fourth

Loan-deposit ratios averaged 59 percent, compared with

63 percent in October and 60 percent a year ago.



The economy of the Twelfth District exhibits presistent strength
with no reports of major declines in employment or production.

The housing

industry and automobile retailing activity continue to be extremely weak,
however, and there is mounting evidence that this weakness is spreading to
allied industries.

Retail sales over the holiday were quite good, but many

retailers are gloomy over the prospects for the first quarter of 1980.


demand has fallen off sharply in most parts of the District and most bankers
anticipate continued declines in lending as the "nincUnt1" of commitments
dries up.

Harvests were generally good in the District and the prospects

for the agricultural sector in 1980 are believed to be bright.
Residential construction activity has fallen off sharply throughout
the district.

In Utah, for example, residential construction permits declined

approximately 20 percent in 1979 compared to 1978.

Similar reports were

received from the states of Washington and Oregon.

Home resales are also

very weak.

Homes in California, for example, are now staying on the market

much longer although the housing market in the San Fernando Valley and Orange
County areas of Southern California is still very active.

There is no

evidence of widespread softening of housing prices.
The weakness In the housing Industry lias bef.un I < have reprcciiHH Ioiih
in the lumber industry and other activities associated with housing.


regional lumber manufacturer in Oregon reports that production is off 20 to
25 percent.

Closures of both plywood facilities and sawmills are also

reported in Oregon, with the loss of about 1,000 more jobs than is usual for

this time of year.

Employment data for the state of California show an

abnormal decline in November in the lumber and furniture industries although
the absolute numbers involved are small.

Prices of dimension lumber have

dropped by about a third since early September.

Non-residential construction

activity is credited with temporarily cushioning the building supply industries from a more severe decline and some observers expect considerably
worsened conditions in the coming months as non-residential construction
Automobile retailers are reported to be in severe straits in some
parts of the District.

A survey of dealers in Salt Lake City resulted in

remarks about sales such as "almost non-existent" and 'worst in twenty years."
In Seattle, however, dealers have accommodated high flooring costs by cutting
inventories and sales are reported to be "fair."

Sales of small and foreign

cars continue to be stronger than sales of large domestic automobiles.
There are very few reports of weakness in the District's economy
outside the housing and automobile sectors.

Demand for aluminum products

is so strong that a major producer is allocating the product to its customers.
Recent rainfall in the Northwest has removed the threat of hydroelectric
Dower cutbacks that would have hurt aluminum production.

High world

prices for lead, zinc, gold and copper have boosted t^e value of output

roin the Coeur d'Alene mining district in the Northwest.

If current metals

prices hold, the mining district's 3980 production Is expected to be more
than triple last year's figures.

The Secretary of Interior announced last,

month that the intermountain power project will be located near Delta, Utah.
Construction of this $4-6 billion plant is expected to further boost that
ar ea's economy.

The demand for skilled technical and clerical labor remains high
throughout much of the Twelfth District.

The unemployment rate of clerical

labor in Southern California is estimated to be only 2 percent, for example.
A major transportation company reports strong demand for its pipeline
and rail services despite weakness in the forest products and automobile
The large department stores in the District report a level of holiday
sales ranging from "good" to "exceeding our budgets".

A regional manager of

Sears in Utah added that regional sales were better than those for Sears

Sales of kitchenware and softgoods were stronger than sales

of consumer durables.

Most retailers are apprehensive about the prospects

for the first quarter of the year and have maintained trim inventories.
Loan demand is generally weak throughout the District.


a major bank headquartered in Southern California reports strong demand for
commercial loans and loans for commercial and industrial construction.


weakness in demand for consumer loans, auto loans and mortgage loans is
ascribed to consumer resistance to high interest rates.

Several lenders

in the District have dropped their rates but still have no significant loan

In those states without binding usury limits, funds are reported

to be "generally available" at the prevailing interest rates.


applicants in many parts of the District are having difficulty qualifying
at present interest rates.

A bank in Oregon reports that only one out of

every four mortgage loan applicants is able to qualify for a loan.


quencies on consumer loans are reported to be on the rise, although they

still remain at reasonable levels.

Bankers in the District generally expect

bankruptcies and foreclosures to increase in 1980.

They also expect loan

volumes to weaken further as previous commitments dry up.
The agricultural sector in the District is in good shape
after the successful harvests of 1979.

Banks in the central valley of

California enjoyed strong deposit growth because of good harvests and there
are no reports of anticipated farm credit problems.

Inventories of farm

equipment are high as a hedge against the increasing prices of this equipment.

Farmers expect the markets for beef cattle, dairy cows and farm crops

to be strong in 1980.