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Prepared for the
Federal Open Market Committee
by the Staff

October 14, 1980

SUMMARY page i
First District-Boston page 1
Second District-New York page 4
Third District-Philadelphia page 8
Fourth District-Cleveland page 11
Fifth District-Richmond page 15
Sixth District-Atlanta page 18
Seventh District-Chicago page 21
Eighth District-St. Louis page 25
Ninth District-Minneapolis page 28
Tenth District-Kansas City page 31
Eleventh District-Dallas page 34
Twelfth District-San Francisco page 37


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

With respect to current and prospective business

activity, reports from Reserve Banks this month are generally less
optimistic than they were last month.

The recent deterioration in

financial conditions is seen as responsible for a slowing of economic
activity in several districts in September.

The rise in interest rates is

the major reason many respondents have adopted a less sanguine view of the
strength of the recovery next year.

The outlook for inflation is about

unchanged from last month, with some districts reporting an easing of price
pressures and others reporting a resurgence.

While commercial lending is

up in several districts, mortgage lending has slackened everywhere.
Automobile dealers are "cautiously optimistic" on balance about the
prospects for the 1981 model year, although there is widespread concern
that the combination of high prices and high financing costs will dampen
new car sales.

However, most respondents agree that it is too soon to know

if these factors will significantly weaken car sales in the months ahead.
Business Conditions and Outlook.

With few exceptions the recent

rise in interest rates apparently has stalled the recovery and caused many
respondents to revise downward their forecasts for 1981, judging from
Reserve Bank reports.

Boston and St. Louis report little change in

business conditions since last month, while the recession is still on in
San Francisco.

Defense spending is mentioned as a source of strength by

Boston and Dallas, but in the latter case this is offset by an expected
decline in construction caused by rising interest rates.

The effect of

higher interest rates on construction also has slowed the recovery in

Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, and Chicago say that

business has improved since last month, but Cleveland and Chicago are
concerned that the recent improvement in steel demand may evaporate if high
prices and interest rates weaken auto sales next year.

Respondents in

New York do not expect the economy to improve significantly before the
middle of next year, and Atlanta and Kansas City note that the rise in
interest rates has caused growing concern about the future in their
districts as well.

Where mentioned, district reports indicate that price

pressures are about unchanged from last month.

While Dallas notes that

lumber prices are off significantly from a year ago and purchasing agents
in Boston and Kansas City report a stabilization of input prices in recent
months, surveys conducted in Philadelphia and Chicago indicated that
industrial input and output prices are rising and probably will continue to
do so for the rest of the year.
Financial Developments.

The most notable feature of district

reports was the widespread decline in mortgage lending due to recent
interest rate increases.

New York and St. Louis report an increase in the

use of VRMs and RRMs; Atlanta notes that equity participation mortgages
issued by a Florida S&L have been well received.

Auto loans are available

and rates and terms generally are unchanged from last month.
demand is strong in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and St. Louis.

Business loan
Deposits are

up in Kansas City and Dallas but down in San Francisco.
Consumer Spending.

Although retail sales are reported as steady or

up slightly (Boston, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Minneapolis,

Kansas City, Dallas), mixed (New York, Philadelphia), or sluggish (Atlanta,
Chicago, San Francisco), the overall tone of the district reports indicates
that consumer spending remains flat in real terms.

Hard goods are doing

relatively well in Philadlephia, consumers buying in advance of price
increases have buoyed big ticket sales in Richmond, catalog shopping is
growing in Atlanta, price cutting and sales are common in Chicago,
St. Louis and San Francisco, and soft goods are doing better than durables
in Kansas City and Dallas.

Auto sales are the best in months in Cleveland

and are up a bit in Minneapolis, but other districts report car sales are
flat or down slightly.

Chicago notes that auto loans are available at

commercial banks in the 14-16 percent range but that lenders are becoming
more selective; Cleveland and Kansas City note that in-house financing at
below market rates still is available for some makes; New York, Atlanta,
Chicago, and Dallas note that the high interest rates are reducing dealers'
desired inventories of new cars.

High new car prices seems to be at least

as important as high interest rates in explaining weak car sales.


districts conclude that it is too soon to tell what effect these factors
will have on 1981 sales volume, however.
Residential Construction.

Conditions in the housing market have

deteriorated in the past month in all districts.

Higher mortgage rates are

cited by all Reserve Banks as the cause of the downturn.

Rates have

increased as much as two percentage points in some districts (New York,
Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City) and mortgage demand has dried up almost

Descriptions of the housing market range from severely

depressed (Chicago) to weak (Richmond) with no district citing improved

Business Fixed Investment.

The outlook for capital spending is

Cleveland, Chicago, and St. Louis see a continued gradual downward

trend in overall spending plans.

Cleveland and Chicago also note that

order cancellations are becoming a problem, although not as severe as in
the last recession.

On the other hand, Philadelphia reports that increased

capital outlays are planned at a third of the firms they surveyed; Atlanta
says that order backlogs at high technology firms are the highest ever;
Dallas cites an ongoing boom in oil drilling, commercial building, and
power plant construction; and New York, Cleveland, and Chicago report
strength in sales of machine tools.

Both retail and manufacturing inventories are

described as lean but generally acceptable by most districts.

New York,

Chicago, and Minneapolis note that high carrying costs have reduced desired
inventories of some respondents, especially automobile dealers.
income is mixed.

The outlook for agricultural production and farm

Drought has reduced crop yields in Richmond, Atlanta,

St. Louis, and Dallas.

The resulting price increases are not expected

fully to offset the decline in output in these areas, so farm income
probably will decrease further.

Atlanta and Dallas also note a heavy use

of emergency credit in their districts.

While Kansas City expects meat

supplies to tighten next year, San Francisco expects them to increase.
Chicago and Minneapolis are optimistic about the corn and soybean harvests
this year, both citing favorable weather and high prices. Academic and Financial Consultants.

The academic consultants

agreed about the current state of the economy but disagreed about monetary

Professor Houthakker believes the economy is stagnant and will

remain so for another year at least.

He thinks the weak economy has

restrained price increases, and he expects a modest improvement in the
balance of payments and the exchange rate in 1981.
foresees a weak recovery during the coming year.

Professor Samuelson
It is his view that the

money growth targets for 1981 are consistent with this outlook and probably
will not induce additional weakness.

Professor Eckstein thinks the

recession is over but that real GNP will expand only 1.9 percent in 1981.
He believes 1981 money growth targets may be inconsistent with the
prospective growth of the economy.

Professor Tobin thinks that the money

growth targets for next year are unrealistically low given the high core
inflation rate and probably will cause stagnation.

He advocates an incomes

policy to alter wage and price behavior in addition to restrictive monetary
and fiscal policies.
The financial consultants urge the Fed to hit its money growth

Mr. Riefler argues that the Fed will gain credibility and reduce

inflationary expectations only by hitting its announced targets.


Schott believes that the recent round of interest rate increases is related
to the deteriorating Federal budget outlook for next year.
another crunch can be averted if the Fed stands firm now.

He thinks
Provided that Ml

does not erupt again, reigniting concerns over further interest rate
increases, Mr. Wojnilower expects a relatively strong recovery in 1981.


First District respondents have seen little change in the level of
activity over the past month.

Retailers, manufacturers and bankers all say

much the same thing: there has been no deterioration recently, but neither
has there been a significant pickup.

An exception to this generalization

is housing, which has been adversely affected by the increase in interest
Higher interest rates have discouraged the demand for housing.
Construction of new homes is down in Connecticut.

In northern New England,

the demand for mortgages, which was already depressed because of the
economy and seasonal factors, has dropped still further.

One banking

respondent says that he has seen an increase in the number of mortgages
past due and the papers report more foreclosures - although his bank has
not been forced to such measures.

The demand for automobiles is also weak,

but this is attributed to higher prices as much as higher interest rates.
Retailers in the department store and general merchandise areas
report that sales are rising with inflation, but there are no real gains.
This continues the experience of the past several months.

According to the

head of one large department store chain, retailers are now optimistic
about the recovery and are placing fairly large orders for the spring.
Manufacturing respondents also see little change in activity.
Areas which were weak before are still weak, while areas which were holding
up well remain strong.

This impression of "no change" is generally

confirmed by two recent surveys of New England manufacturers, although both
surveys show an increase in order rates.

Defense is more and more

frequently mentioned as a source of strength.

Inventories are thought to

be under control.

According to one of the surveys, lead times have

shortened and price increases for materials and components have moderated
considerably in the past several months.
Professors Houthakker, Samuelson, Eckstein and Tobin were available
for comment this month.
for at least a year.

Houthakker believes the economy has been stagnant

Growth will not resume until late 1981 or 1982.

Referring to the recent slower rise of commodity prices, Houthakker thinks
that the economic stagnation has restrained past and prospective price

Adversities in food and fuel production should not end our

progress to lower inflation rates.

Though we have yet to pay the full

price, most of the bad news about food production is now behind us, and the
war damage to Iraqi and Iranian oil fields is limited.

Houthakker expects

a modest improvement in our balance of trade accompanied by an increase in
dollar exchange rates during 1981.
Samuelson expects a weak recovery during the coming year.
"double-dip" recession is unlikely, though not impossible.



Samuelson believes the Fed should observe its money growth targets, at
least for the time being.

The targets are consistent with the expected

sluggish recovery, and it is too early to indict these targets for inducing
additional economic weakness.
Eckstein believes the recession is over.

The prospects for growth,

however, are not good: real GNP will expand only 1.9 percent during 1981.
The demand for investment goods may decline throughout the first half of
next year, rising taxes and energy prices will restrain consumption
spending, and housing demand may slump once more late this year or early
next year.

Because of the sluggish recovery, Eckstein believes the Fed

should "watch the money growth target, real interest rates, and the economy
and not get excited until they clash."

The current targets are consistent

with prospective growth for the remainder of this year; a potential
conflict may arise next year however.
Tobin believes that the problems of high inflation and slow growth
cannot be solved by the FOMC alone.

Unless the Fed and the Administration

coordinate fiscal and monetary policies—perhaps including an income
policy—our "money growth targets will collide with an unyielding core
inflation rate causing stagnation."

Acting alone, the Fed's current

targets cannot finance a "normal" recovery given our persistently high

Accordingly, these targets, by themselves, are not realistic.

They are too harsh, and they invite withering criticism and offsetting
fiscal stimulus.

Price controls, however, could "keep a lid on the pot"

while coordinated fiscal and monetary policies reduce inflation's full boil
to a simmer.

Price controls could be lifted once contracts and

expectations accept a slower rate of inflation.

Second District—NEW YORK

Business activity in the Second District continued weak in September.
Although retail sales were uneven for the month, some strengthening
is anticipated in the coming months.

Automobile purchases remained slow.

The outlook for car sales is very uncertain because of rising interest
rates and recent price hikes for domestic models.

Outside the con-

sumer sector, some increase in demand has been reported for machinetool makers and is also expected for chemicals.

The respondents, for

the most part, do not expect any major economic recovery until the latter
half of 1981.

On the financial side, reports indicate that lending terms

for automobile purchases remained unchanged during September.

In the

housing market, however, credit conditions have tightened considerably.
Consumer Spending
Consumer spending in the Second District was generally erratic
during September.

Sales for the month as a whole, both in New York City

and nearby suburbs, were about in line with retailers' expectations.


contrast, retail sales upstate were somewhat stronger than expected.
Throughout the District, inventories were generally satisfactory since
most retailers have stressed the importance of following conservative

Credit sales appear to be running at about the same volume as

last year.

Retailers are generally optimistic that sales will strengthen

as the Christinas season approaches.
Automobile sales in the Second District were also mixed in

Foreign car sales appeared better than in the comparable

jnonth last year, while domestic car sales were reported to have "declined

drastically" since the beginning of the month.
to be depressed.

Used car sales also appeared

The October 1 price increases combined with the high

financing costs were cited as likely to hurt sales in upcoming months.
Although the report from a major automobile manufacturer suggests a very
sharp increase in sales by the third quarter of 1981, the present outlook is
described as "nervous".

Particular concern was raised over sales of

leftover 1980 models and of the 1981 models which are not in the new
fuel-efficient lines.

At the same time, however, it is believed

that energy considerations are fading in consumers' minds.

Both manu-

facturers and dealers are deeply doncerned over the effects of rising
interest rates on the costs of financing 1981 inventories.

Some dealers

are considering trimming their inventories again, although they fear the
reduced selection of cars for potential buyers could hurt sales in
future months.
The Manufacturing Sector
Outside the consumer sector, a few signs of improvement are
beginning to appear.

Some machine tool-makers are reporting strengthening

Inventories in this industry are very lean and could result in slow

deliveries if a large increase in demand occurs.
for: chemicals is expected in the next month.

Some pick-up in orders

Similarly,, an increase in steel

production is anticipated in 1981 (although not enough to reverse the decline
experienced in 1980) in association with an expected rise in auto sales.
In contrast, demand for construction materials has weakened and a major
manufacturer of sewing machines is phasing out local production, idling
850 workers by the end of the year.

Inventories in the oil industry remain

high and there are no plans for further additions to stocks.


in the manufacturing sector, there has been further inventory liquidation
reflecting continued uncertainties at the retail level.
Economic Outlook
The economic outlook of most District respondents was rather

Although retailers anticipate a strong Christmas season, other

respondents expect consumer spending to remain weak at least through the
remainder of this year.

The principal reasons are high food and fuel prices

and rising interest rates.

The recent upturn in housing starts was widely

viewed as temporary, and the rise in mortgage rates was expected to produce
a downturn relatively soon.
auto sales.

Respondents were divided in their outlook on

No one outside of auto manufacturing, however, expects a sharp total car sales.
Financial Developments
On the financial side, commercial banks in the Second District
report no change in either lending terms or credit standards for automobile
loans during the month of September.

In the mortgage market, how-

ever, conditions have tightened appreciably.

Commitment and application

activity in September are reported to be significantly down from August

A number of lenders have been offering renegotiable rate mortgages

(RRMs) or variable rate mortgages (VRMs) in addition to conventional instruments, and some institutions have even shifted to an exclusive RRM-VRM policy.
Mortgage rates have increased by about 1 percentage point since early

At present, the rate on new conventional mortgage commitments

ranges from 13 1/2 percent plus 2 points to 14 1/4 percent plus 3 points.
Commitment rates of RRMs and VRMs are lower.

Financial Panel
This month we have comments from Donald Riefler (Morgan Guaranty
Trust Company), Francis Schott (Equitable Life Assurance Society), and
Albert Wojnilower (First Boston).*

While wide swings in both interest rates and money

supply figures should be viewed as normal for periods of high and volatile
inflation, they were exaggerated this year by the imposition and subsequent
withdrawal of the Credit Control Program.

It is essential to the Fed's

credibility and to curtailing inflationary expectations that the Fed hit
its annual money supply targets.

I see some tentative early signs that the

move upward in rates may be having some effect on inflationary expectations:
in commodity prices plateauing, stability and strength of the dollar, and
better performance of the bond market.

The recent interest rate run-up is closely related to

market perceptions of the deteriorating fiscal 1981 Federal budget picture.
Precautionary business borrowing—short-term and long-term—is also again
a factor.

By standing firm now, the Federal Reserve may be able to nip

in the bud the potential need for another crunch.

The market may then

realize that renewed rapid economic expansion is not actually in the cards.

The tone of asset markets has become more strongly

Now bond prices have joined, triggered mainly by reports that

Chairman Volcker had asserted the market had overanticipated the rise in
money rates.

If Mi does not erupt again, concerns as to- housing weakness

and "double-dip" are apt to recede.

My own forecast remains for a relatively

robust business upturn with some tendency for inflation to reaccelerate.


Their views of course are personal, not institutional.

Reports from the Third District indicate that business activity in October is
mixed, but that the outlook is improving. Manufacturers report major improvement in
industrial conditions over September, and are very optimistic about the next two
quarters. New orders, shipments, inventories, and factory employment are all expected
to increase between now and ApriL
Retail sales are still mixed overall in October, with hard goods ahead of most


Merchants are cautious about coming months, and are planning

Local bankers report good business loan activity this month, but say retail
borrowing is down.

Continued strength in commercial loan activity is expected, as

interest rates are forecast to drop through the first quarter of 1981.
In the housing sector, sales have levelled off in recent weeks as mortgage
money has become tighter. New starts have slowed as well.

Respondents to the October Business Outlook Survey report widespread
pickups in industrial activity over last month, the first such positive sign since May
1979. Supporting the claims of renewed strength, both new orders and shipments are up
signficantly from September, and manufacturers have added to inventories, although only
slightly, for the first time in two years. It appears that factory employment has been
helped by the industrial spurt too. The widespread payroll cuts of recent months are
disappearing, with only marginal layoffs and hour reductions reported.
As for the future, survey participants continued to be optimistic, projecting a
significant upswing in general industrial activity within the next six months. In terms of

specific indicators, about half of the survey respondents forecast climbing levels of new
orders and shipments between now and April. Plans for meeting the anticipated demand
include building stocks, hiring more labor, and lengthening the workweek.


capital outlays are also planned at about a third of the firms surveyed.
Industrial prices are up again in October, as 56 percent of the survey
participants are paying more for inputs than they did a month ago, and 52 percent report
charging more for their finished goods. Looking ahead, inflation is expected to continue
as nearly 90 percent project raw material costs to increase by April while 80 percent
plan price hikes for the goods they sell.

Although early October retail sales have rebounded from a sluggish third
quarto' at some stores, overall retail activity remains mixed. Reports of current dollar
sales range from 1 percent below to 10 percent above October '79 levels. A Director of
this Bank in the retail business says luxury goods and apparel are making a better showing
than other lines.

He also notes that credit sales are growing, and are expected to

continue to do so in coming months.
Local merchants continue to plan cautiously for the next six months,
expecting stable but lethargic sales performance in the fourth quarter, one reason being
the lack of real strength in consumer disposable income.

This seems to reflect the

attitude of other area retailers, as they anticipate a steady, no-growth schedule and hope
to keep inventory-sales ratios healthy.
Auto dealers in the Third District say new car sales are mixed. Current sales
volume reports range from 20 percent below to 25 percent above those just a few months
ago, with even the more successful dealers noting some levelling off in recent weeks.
Part of the slowdown can be attributed to financing problems, as interest rates have

risen and banks have become reluctant to make car loans. Most financing is being done
through in-house financing agencies now, such as GMAC and Ford Motor Credit. Area
dealers are optimistic about the 1981 lines, however, and expect a pickup in sales,
despite higher prices on the new cars.

Area bankers report mixed activity in October. Commercial loan volume is
up 3 to 19 percent over year-ago figures, slightly above budget for the most part.
Consumer loans, on the other hand, are off by about 3 to 4 percent. Looking ahead to the
next six months, consumer loan levels are expected to remain flat. Most area bankers
are shying away from marketing efforts to attract retail customers, for as one
spokesman put it, "consumer loans are hard to make a nickel on." Commercial loans,
however, are expected to pick up.
Third District bankers are currently quoting a prime rate of 13 1/2 percent.
Projections of the prime indicate a turnabout from the recent trend of rising rates,
leaving the rate 350 basis points below its current level by end of first quarter 1981.

Third District housing appeared healthy in the third quarter, when mortgage
rates fell below 14 percent, but sales have taken a sharp dip recently as money has
become tighter. Current mortgage rates are running 13 3/4 to 14 1/2 percent, with some
90 percent loans available at the upper end of this range. Mortgage market conditions
may ease soon, if it becomes legal in Pennsylvania next month to offer renegotiable rate
mortgages, as some thrift institution officials anticipate.
On the construction side, housing starts have slowed, with builders finishing
in-progress projects but holding the line on new ground breakings.



Recent improvements in Fourth District business activity are

expected to be dampened by rising interest rates, according to this month's

Despite real improvements, several business economists express

doubts that third quarter figures have yet to reflect the extent of inventory

Steel orders, however, continue to receive an impetus from

inventory re-stocking.

Capital spending is continuing on a gradual downward

trend, but backlogs appear to be strong enough to sustain shipments until a
recovery begins in mid-1981.

Retailers and automobile dealers report some

rebound in sales from the abnormally low levels brought on by the March credit
restraint program.

Bankers report that business loans have benefited from

inventory investment, but consumer loans continue to be weak.

Mortgage lending

has virtually halted as a result of interest rates that are at or above 13%.

While most respondents now acknowledge that real GNP may

be slightly positive in the third quarter of 1980, they have not changed their
earlier forecast of a slow recovery over the next three quarters.


this decline was associated with a severe cutback in consumer spending rather
than inventories, the recovery will be sluggish.

Several economists concur

that the consumer's balance sheet is not strong enough to support a strong
resurgence in either consumer spending or overall economic activity.


expect little improvement in consumer spending once the catch-up from credit
controls is completed.

Rising interest rates are expected,to weaken a recovery,

but most respondents place a low probability on a double-dip recession.


most likely scenario is for real GNP to alternate between small positive and
negative changes through the second quarter of 1981.


Several business economists, while encouraged by the

turnaround in production and employment, remain cautious with respect to the
outlook because of inventories.

Although inventories were generally in better

shape going into the recession than in past pre-recession periods, a steel
economist believes that there has been substantial liquidation of inventories
in manufacturing in addition to steel.

Several economists state that either

third quarter inventory data will show liquidation, or the fourth quarter GNP
GNP forecasts will have to be adjusted downward to allow for a liquidation
phase in the inventory cycle.

Significant improvements in steel orders, following heavy

inventory liquidation especially by service centers and declining import
commitments, are reported by industry economists.

New orders in September rose

consistent with almost an 80 percent operating rate, but actual fourth quarter
operating rates will probably be closer to 70 percent.

Steel economists report

some pickup from the auto industry, but auto production schedules so far have
remained conservative.
Capital Goods.

Because of a seventeen month backlog in metal cutting

tool orders, machine tool expenditures in real terms have increased, while new
orders have continued to decline.

However, machine tool producers state that

order cancellations are becoming a bigger problem, although not yet comparable
to past recessions.

September orders may have picked up slightly because of

very low August levels and a response to the annual machine tool show.


a capital-goods producer expects a recovery in capital spending to begin in the
first quarter of 1981 at the earliest, several expect the recovery to be centered
among small OEM suppliers.

Auto-"suppliers especially have been hurt by weakness

in the auto industry and have curtailed purchases of machine tools and parts.

Consumer Spending.

Most of the recent improvement

consumer spending

is associated with a rebound from the second quarter credit controls.

A durable

goods producer believes that if it were not for the severe cutback in consumer
spending in the second quarter, consumer spending would still be declining.


economist for a major retail chain states that unseasonably warm weather in
September caused consumers to postpone fall and winter apparel purchases.


in the first week of October soared, suggesting that the September slump was
partly a weather phenomenon.
Auto sales in the first week of October have been the best in months
for area dealers.

Ohio dealers have benefited substantially from a state sales

tax reduction from 4 percent to 2 percent since mid-September.
qualify for the tax reduction).

(K cars did not

Several dealers are encouraged by favorable

initial response to 1981 models, but they believe that improved sales represent
buying ahead and that November and December sales may weaken as a result.


dealers are concerned about consumer response to the higher prices of 1981 models.
Interest rates on auto loans, which in some areas has moved up to 16 percent,
have not yet hindered auto sales partly because company financing is available
at below market rates.

Rising interest rates have not had a significant effect on

business or consumer lending over the past month.

Business loans continue to be

relatively flat, according to several bank economists, with most of the demand
coming from inventory financing for companies with large declines in profits.
Loans to medium-sized businesses continue to be on a plateau.

Although consumer

lending rates have moved upward in recent weeks, a bottoming out pattern of
consumer loans does not appear to have been altered.

Credit card usage rebounded

significantly in August from July levels, according to both bankers and retailers.

Mortgage Lending.

Increasing mortgage rates have again resulted in

a substantial decline in mortgage lending, according to District S&Ls.


rates charged by S&Ls range from 12% percent to 13 percent for an 80% loan,
while banks generally are already above 13 percent.

An S&L official believes

that the volatility of mortgage rates over the past year has been more important
than the level in reducing demand.

Buyers are still very inflation conscious

and perceive real estate as the best inflation hedge.

Currently, most of the

lending activity is at the lower end of the price range of houses.

An economist

with a regional FHLB in this District expresses concern that the second half
profit outlook for S&Ls may be worse than the first half.

Unless rates fall

drastically, many S&Ls in the District will suffer net losses.
is adequate to meet commitments without relying on advances.

So far liquidity
Several S&L

officials doubt that interest rates will fall back to 12 percent before spring.


Recent contacts with District businesses suggest that business
activity in the Fifth District turned up within the past month.


survey of manufacturers indicates increases in both shipments and new
orders in the latest survey period.

Also, backlogs continued to be

worked off and inventories, while remaining somewhat above desired
levels, fell broadly.
pickup in activity.

Responses of retailers also suggest a recent

Little change in employment occurred among respon-

dents over the month.

There is no consensus among our directors as to

whether a recovery has begun.

Most are able to point to particular soft

spots they feel will have lingering effects.
to have emerged in consumer borrowing.

No consistent pattern seems

The impression here is that such

borrowing is up, perhaps significantly, from earlier in the year but
is not yet approaching what would be considered normal levels.
lending remains slack in most areas.


The heaviest general rainfall since

early spring arrived during the past two weeks and should prove beneficial
to late crops and pastures.
Consumer spending, on balance, appears to have picked up in recent

Retail survey respondents report increased total sales in the past

month and indicate that big ticket items have about kept pace.

Once again

there are reports of consumers buying to beat price increases.

With unem-

ployment rates down sharply from their peaks in some District states, consumer
confidence may be re-emerging.

A number of reports, principally from bankers,

concern a short-lived surge in auto sales in early September.

Such sales

have apparently slacked off considerably in the past two weeks, however.

There is no evidence of any significant change in residential construction or sales in the past month.
in the year, but hardly buoyant.

Construction is well up from earlier

Sales and the requisite mortgage lending

continue spotty.
Manufacturers in the District continued to work down inventories
in September.

Stocks of both materials and finished goods fell on balance,

but were little changed relative to desired levels.
comfortable with current stocks.

Most respondents are

Retailers experienced further inventory

accumulation over the month, but find present levels appropriate.


facturers, by and large, also feel current plant and equipment capacity
is about right.

The number and size of retail outlets is also seen as

appropriate to present and anticipated circumstances.
Expectations of the future level of business activity continued to
rise over the month.

Over one-third of the manufacturers surveyed expect

business conditions nationally, locally, and in their respective firms to
improve over the next six months.

Only about one in six expects the level

of activity to fall over that period.

Sixty percent of the retailers re-

sponding expect conditions to Improve.
All of our directors from the banking industry feel there has been
a moderate recent resurgence in consumer loan demand in their areas.


bankers contacted also perceive a pick-up, but nearly everyone stresses the
word moderate.

In several areas auto loans accounted for much of the new

demand, but there is some feeling that this activity has subsided in the
past two weeks.

There are also isolated reports of moderate increases in

demand for home improvement and debt consolidation loans.
recent activity in home improvement loans strong.

One bank calls

Bankers contacted are

unable to evaluate the relative effects of recent changes in credit market

conditions and the auto model year-end in the recent swings in auto loan

There is some concern that prices and discount schedules on new

American cars will prove unpleasant surprises for potential customers.
There is also scattered optimism about sales of 1981 models, however.
Residential mortgage activity remains generally slack.
provement is noted it was from extremely low levels.

Where recent imIn some instances

the recent changes in credit market conditions have had a negative effect,
but this has not been universally the case.

Some bankers see evidence that

it has provided an incentive for consumers to try to lock in existing rates.
District agriculture continues to suffer from the effects of last
summer's drought, although recent rains should help pastures and late crops.
Production prospects for the District's major money crops are pessimistic,
suggesting a further decline in farm income from crop marketings as the harvest progresses.


Last month's general feeling of optimism turned to one of concern
as higher interest rates threatened to stall the recovery in home building.
Consumers are still cautious in the use of credit and are postponing major

Merchants are reacting by keeping inventories lean.


brightened in August but may be less buoyant in September due to the ripple
effect of slower housing demand and weaker retail sales.
Consumer Spending and Inventories.
in most areas.

Retail sales have been slack

Home furnishings and appliance sales were weak, and the new

fall fashions got off to a slow start, hampered by extended summer-like

One large retailer noted increased preference for catalog

shopping as consumers continued their efforts to avoid higher floor prices.
Use of cash is also more prevalent.
Although traffic is high at most new car dealer showrooms, sales
have only been fair.
the next three months.

Dealers are not optimistic about new car sales over
Consumers are taking a "wait and see" approach on

the performance of the widely promoted American-made fuel-efficient cars.
Many consider them overpriced.

Inventories are at low levels by design—

carrying charges have been rising rapidly.
Financial and Construction.

The recent surge in interest rates is

slowing home sales throughout the District. The typical 13 1/2- to 14-percent
mortgage rate has about eliminated the first-time buyer, and trading buyers
are finding difficulty qualifying for conventional financing.

There is

much uncertainty among building contractors and potential home buyers. They
are unable to plan ahead due to rapidly changing interest rates. Savings and

loan associations report applications tapering off.

Some lenders are return-

ing to a policy of restricting loans only to their customers.
financing is becoming much more prevalent.


One Florida S&L reported good

reception to its new equity-participation mortgage.

A large south Mississippi

supplier reports a sharp reduction in orders for construction materials
since interest rates have moved up, and lumber prices in north Florida have
fallen considerably from last month's level.

About the only market not yet

affected by the high interest rates are the luxury condominiums in south
Florida as building continues strong.
Capital investment plans are mixed at this time.

Northern Alabama

businessmen are leary of making plant expansions or building inventories
because of escalating interest rates, but in south Florida, firms are said
to be still expanding with minor exceptions.

Backlogs at high-technology

companies are the highest ever.

In Louisiana, industrial construction is

strong due to continued petrochemical expansion.
Employment and Industry.

For the most part, the employment picture

has brightened, although there still are some rough spots.


employment turned upward for the first time in over half a year. The factory
workweek edged up, but hours worked in many industries are still far behind
those of last year.

Cutbacks are anticipated by the farm machinery and

food processing industries as the record-breaking heat wave and drought
curtailed crop and animal production.

Unemployment continues to escalate

in northern Alabama, with renewed layoffs and a "general across-the-board
slowdown" by industrial concerns.

Datsun, Japan's second largest automotive

manufacturer, will build a major truck plant in middle Tennessee.


plant, set for production in 1983 at a cost estimated at nearly $500 million,
will ultimately employ 2,200 workers, nearly all of them local.
Tourism has shown some slackening in most areas except for southeastern Florida, which continues to attract

foreign visitors.


Airlines reported that passenger revenue miles were down 12 percent in south

Deplanements were also off in New Orleans, and hotel reservations

in Nashville were down 10 percent from the year-ago level.

The drought has made further reductions in District

crop production; however, additional price increases have offset some of
the drag on income.

Corn and soybean prices have risen significantly.


cow-calf industry faces a severe squeeze resulting from drought-reduced
forage supplies, rapidly escalating feed costs, and feeder calf prices
averaging 25 percent below a year ago.

Farm credit outstanding is well

above year-ago levels, and farmers have made heavy use of emergency credit.


Activity in the district apparently strengthened moderately in the
past two months, but remains well below the levels of either the first quarter or last year.

No substantial, revival is expected for the next several

Consumer buying is sluggish.

downward phase.

Capital spending, overall, is in a

Inventories are lean and under tight control.


prices are strengthening again after a brief period of discounting last

Housing remains severely depressed.


Farm income prospects have

Credit is generally available, but high rates and tighter lending

standards hold down new credits.

Complaints of "slow pay" by businesses and

consumers are widespread.
Purchasing managers in Chicago and Milwaukee report that the modest
improvement they noted in August continued in September.
however, this means merely a slower rate of decline.

For many companies,

Some uptrend in orders,

output, and employment has occurred, but activity remains well below the
levels of the first quarter.
Retail sales.

Prices paid are strengthening again.

Retailers report that sales were somewhat disappoint-

ing in September and early October, following an improvement from the low
point of April-May.

Price cutting and special sales are common.

Except for

strength in auto parts and service, no categories are singled out as particularly strong or weak.
lines cautiously.

Credit use has revived, but customers are using their

Delinquencies continue to rise, but not alarmingly.

Retail inventories are definitely lean, so a strong Christmas season, should
it develop, would cause some stockouts.
Airline traffic has been declining for several months.

In September

passenger miles on trunk airlines were 13.5 percent below year ago. Advance
bookings and customer surveys suggest the picture will weaken further.


recession and higher fares, up kO percent on full-pay tickets, are blamed.
Autos and trucks. Motor vehicle sales were slow in September,
partly because of depleted inventories of large cars. No clear reading on
the strength of demand for 1981 models will be possible until late October
or November.

New models appear to be selling well, but high prices shock

some potential buyers.
ago at this time.
type trucks.

Inventories are in much better balance than a year

Most dealers have moved out stocks of big cars and consumer-

Rates on car loans have stabilized in the lU-l6 percent range.

Credit is available, but lenders are very selective on new credits, especially on k2 and kQ month loans. Finance companies are now charging over
Ik percent on floor plan loans, and dealers are complaining bitterly.
Dealers are determined not to overstock again, partly because they fear that
carrying costs, subject to change day-by-day, will increase further.
Dealerships continue to close as losses accumulate, but not as frequently
as last spring. Captive finance companies have reestablished some closed
dealerships under new managements.

Showroom traffic to view new models

generally has been disappointing, partly because new features are not apparent in styling.

There is little hope for a substantial revival in vehicle

sales in the next 3 to 6 months.

Sales are especially weak in Chicago, and

the Midwest generally.
Capital goods.

Overall, new orders for equipment are continuing to

decline, and backlogs are still eroding, but at a slower rate.
evidence of heavy cancellations of orders as in 197^-75•
sector and machine tool builders have large backlogs.

There is no

The oil and gas

Demand for farm

equipment and heavy trucks shows some improvement after a sharp decline earlier in the year. Construction equipment is in its worst slump ever.


for heavy castings have stabilized at a rate equal to about 60 percent of

Freight car deliveries are declining at an accelerated rate.

Steel orders have improved since early July.

Operations have moved

from a low of 50 percent of capacity to about 75 percent, but remain well
"below the levels of 1979

early 1980.

Some laid off steel workers have

been recalled, and closed furnaces have been started up.

Lead times on sheets

have returned to normal, but leads on most other products remain short.


inventories at all levels have been low for the past year, which explains the
up and down nature of steel demand.

Residential construction activity is at a postwar low in

most district centers. An incipient revival in the summer was aborted in
August as mortgage money tightened, and rates moved back past 12 percent.
Currently, most posted rates range from 13 to Ik percent plus fees of 2.5
to 3 points.

Some lenders offering 13 percent loans

to go higher because demand has "dried up."

say there is no need

The failure of builders to get

"holes in the ground" this fall will slow the seasonal uptrend in activity
next spring. Used house sales also remain at a low ebb, with most realtors
down to skeleton crews.
Nonresidential construction is at a high rate, but is expected to
decline in 1981.

A large volume of work is in the planning stage, with con-

tracts expected to be let some months hence. Financing will be a problem
unless the insurance companies return in force to the commercial mortgage
market which they largely closed off in late August.

Crop prices have declined somewhat, and livestock

prices have leveled, "but farm income and credit remain healthier than was
the case early in the year.

Corn and soybean harvests are ahead of normal.

Recent frosts were light and did not significantly alter yield forecasts.
The Wisconsin dairy industry has been relatively prosperous.

It will be

strengthened further by the semiannual adjustment which raised the milk
support price to lU percent above last year as of October 1.

Businesses of all types are striving to keep inven-

tories low, partly because of high financing costs.

Only oil product inven-

tories are deemed excessive, but this would be a stabilizing factor if the
Iraq-Iran war drags on or spreads.


Overall economic activity has changed little in recent weeks according to
Eighth District businessmen. Consumer spending at department stores has increased
somewhat from August to September.

In contrast, automobile sales, while on an

uptrend since April, declined slightly from August to September.


activity is mixed but, on balance, has changed little since early September. Increased
orders and production were reported by manufacturers of metals, chemicals, and
construction materials, while orders for capital goods declined further. Home sales in
September were adversely affected by rising interest rates.

Overall loan volume

increased in recent weeks, led by business loans to manufacturers.

Even though

agricultural harvesting is proceeding rapidly, sharply reduced crop yields in parts of
the District will substantially reduce farm incomes this year.
Consumer spending has increased modestly in recent weeks according to area
retailers. Department store representatives report that September sales were up from
both August and from a year ago. Some retailers noted that recent gains have been
achieved by markdowns and promotions, so that profit margins remain depressed.
Retail sales in some rural areas are reported to have shown little improvement in
recent months due to depressed farm incomes. Automobile sales have a generally risen
since last April, although September sales were down somewhat from August. Car
dealers report that substantial showroom traffic has been generated recently by the
newer energy efficient models of domestic manufacturers, but that is too early to
assess their sales potential.
Inventories are at generally acceptable levels at both the retail and
manufacturing firms. A major chemical firm reported that excessive inventories of

some plastics, intermediate chemicals and industrial chemicals have been reduced to
satisfactory levels.
Manufacturing activity appears to have been unchanged in recent weeks, and
no further substantial layoff of

workers was noted.

Gains were reported by

manufacturers of construction materials, metals, chemicals, and feeds. A producer of
construction materials noted, however, that the recent gains are likely to be
short-lived because higher interest rates are expected to reduce housing activity.
Some manufacturers of clothing and appliances noted little change in recent weeks.
Capital good orders are on the downside; high interest rates and anticipated tax
benefits from legislation next year are reported to be reasons for the falloff.
Residential housing sales declined in September after increasing in the early
summer months. A representative of the St. Louis home building industry reports that
home sales in September may have declined to one-half the level of July and August,
and that, for the year, they may be only about 20 percent of normal. Rising interest
rates are cited by homebuilders for the decline. Rates have risen from 11-1/2 percent
to around 13-1/2 - 14 percent since mid-summer. Virtually no backlog of home sales











Nonresidential building continues at a high level as a result of existing projects. A
representative of one St. Louis firm noted, however, that an office building project has
been shelved because of the recent rise in mortgage interest rates.
Recent financial developments include somewhat higher loan volumes at area
financial institutions and higher interest rates.

Business loan volume at banks is

reported to have increased in recent weeks. Higher demand for loans was noted by
manufacturing firms, particularly textiles, petroleum refining, and chemicals.


addition, a small increase in consumer installment loans and a seasonal increase in
agricultural loans associated with grain storage from the fall harvest was noted.
Partially offsetting these gains were declines in loans to retailers and wholesalers.
Lenders report that the movement away from long-term fixed rate mortgages is
gathering momentum, and that such mortgages may soon be regarded as a thing of the
past. Some banks report a reluctance to lend to consumers since a change in the
personal bankruptcy law has increased bad debt expenses.
Agricultural producers in the District, particularly in Arkansas and Missouri,
face substantially reduced incomes this year due to poor crop yields, death losses of
poultry, and higher production costs. In Arkansas, the soybean and rice crops are
reported to be down 50 and 25 percent, respectively, from original estimates. In
addition, Arkansas poultry producers suffered heavy financial losses last summer due to
heat related deaths of poultry. As a result of reduced incomes in these areas, local
banks report the potential for bad loans is the highest in many years.


September's rise in interest rates has slowed but not stalled the
district recovery we've reported for the last two months.

The higher interest

rates reduced home sales and inventories and discouraged some bank lending.
Retail sales and manufacturing activity continued to improve, though, and auto
sales started to pick up.

Also, generally favorable weather and high prices

cheered district farmers.

Consumer Spending
Recent interest rate increases choked off some consumer spending in
the Ninth District, but not much.

Home sales have undoubtedly been cut back.

At one of the largest S&Ls in Minneapolis-St. Paul, for example, the conventional mortgage rate jumped from 11 1/3 percent to 13 3 A percent between August
and September.

At the same time, the firm's average weekly mortgage applica-

tions dropped from 200 to 74.

However, the revival in retail spending, which

began in July, does not seem to have been slowed by the higher rates; most
directors report some increase in their areas in the last month.
actually began to improve in September.

Auto sales

Representatives of regional sales

offices for two large domestic auto manufacturers say their new car sales rose
modestly between August and September.

Both directors and auto sales repre-

sentatives believe that so far interest rates have had little effect on retail
and auto sales.

Industrial Activity and Inventories
Industrial activity doesn't seem to have been hurt much by the higher
interest rates either.

Manufacturing may have been held down some, since the

rate increases made somp businesses more hesitant to add to inventories.


dealers, for example, have cut back new car orders even though their sales just
picked up.

But manufacturing activity generally still seems to be expanding.

Directors and the Minnesota Department of Economic Development say that in
September manufacturers continued to recall laid-off workers and step up production rates.
One district industry not noticeably affected by the higher interest
rates is mining—but unfortunately it is still depressed for other reasons.
Reduced steel demand is still holding down iron ore shipments from Minnesota and
the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Copper mining in Montana is still shut down by
a strike.

And 1,500 of 2,500 striking workers lost their jobs in September when

the Anaconda Company closed its copper smelting operations in Anaconda and Great

A more fortunate industry not noticeably affected by the September
interest rate increase is agriculture.

Although too little rain in parts of

South Dakota and Montana kept some winter wheat from germinating and too much
rain in North Dakota held up the durum wheat harvest, the weather elsewhere was
good and helped the corn, sunflower, and soybean crops mature properly.
also looked good for farmers in September.


In Minneapolis, the average cash

prices for soybeans and corn continued to increase.
slightly but remained above last spring's levels.

Wheat prices declined

In St.

Paul, average cash

livestock prices also remained above last spring's levels. Feeder cattle prices
rose again, while slaughter steer and hog prices declined slightly.

Financial Developments
Higher interest rates probably did discourage some lending at district
financial firms in September, for while the economy continued to show signs of

improvement, bank lending remained sluggish.

Between August and September,

loans at district member banks did not grow as much as expected for that time of

Directors also report no lending pickup at commercial banks in their


They believe the higher interest rates are partly to blame.



Growing concern about the future prospects for business

activity is apparent among Tenth District businessmen.

An increasing

pessimism is evident among auto dealers and in the Homebuilding industry,
as rising interest rates appear to be dampening activity in those sectors.
Lighter inventories are being sought by retailers, and manufacturers are
trying to reduce materials inventories.

Meat supplies, now plentiful, are

expected to tighten next year, bringing higher prices.

Loan demand at

District banks is generally flat, and deposits are growing moderately.
Retail Sales and Inventories.

The majority of Tenth District

retailers surveyed report that sales in the latest three months were slightly
better than sales in the first half of 1980.

Sales appear to be strongest

in apparel and nondurable home furnishings, with some weakness still existing
in big ticket items such as appliances and furniture.

Remarkably, all District

retailers report slight or nonexistent increases in merchandise costs in
recent months.

A majority of retailers contacted intend to approach the fall

and Christmas seasons with lighter inventory levels than last year, which will
in some cases require reducing their purchases of merchandise.

Most retailers

expect only slight sales gains in the last quarter of 1980 compared to the
last quarter of 1979.
Automobile Sales.

Recent changes in credit market conditions have

adversely affected District auto sales, particularly in Missouri and Colorado,
as consumers have become noticeably more reluctant to buy cars since the recent
rise in interest rates.

Fewer banks are making auto loans, and dealers and

consumers are relying more heavily on credit from the automakers' finance


Although dealers generally have reduced their inventory plans in

the last month, they are stilly guardedly optimistic about the 1981 models—
though somewhat less optimistic than a month ago.
Manufacturers' Inventories and Input Prices.

Although almost all of

the purchasing agents contacted report a stabilizing of input prices in recent
months, over half feel that this trend will not last, and that prices will
resume rising by yearend.

Most input lead times are considered short, but

are expected to start lengthening because most suppliers no longer have excess

Host purchasing agents are ordering less than last year, and are

trying to reduce materials inventories.
Homebuilding and Home Finance.

According to Tenth District homebuilders

and savings and loan associations, recent increases in interest rates have had
a negative impact on the housing sector.

New house sales in some areas have

dropped to the low levels experienced in the spring of this year, but inventory
levels of new homes are not now critically high.

Housing starts have slowed

to a near standstill, with few builders willing to make advance commitments.
Savings inflows have improved slightly because of the lag between recent
increases in interest rates paid by savings and loans and the adjustment of
fixed rate money market instruments that compete with those associations for

Current mortgage rates average about 14 per cent on conventional loans

at District associations, an increase of 1 to 2 per cent from two weeks ago.
At the higher mortgage rates, demand for mortgage funds has slowed appreciably.

U.S. meat supplies, which appear plentiful now, are

expected to be substantially tighter during most of next year.

Hog inventories

for Tenth District states are 8 per cent below year-earlier levels, while
nationwide inventories are only 3 per cent lower.

Although hog marketings

for the remainder of 1980 are expected to equal or exceed marketings during
late 1979, farrowing intentions suggest a substantial reduction in pork slaughter
during the first three quarters of 1981.
to improve through mid-1981.

Consequently, hog prices are expected

September 1 cattle on feed numbers indicate a

14 per cent decline from year-earlier levels in feedlot inventories for
Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Marketings of fed cattle during August were

13 per cent below 1979 levels for the three District states.

Placements of

cattle into feed lots in the seven major feeding states increased 20 per cent
from August 1979 levels, while District states' placements rose 16 per cent
during this same period.

Feeder cattle prices have increased 5 per cent

during the past quarter, but remain 8 per cent below year-earlier levels.
Banking Developments.

Loan demand remains flat at most Tenth District

banks contacted this month, with exceptions at some banks in Oklahoma, Wyoming,
and New Mexico where local economic conditions remain strong.

Commercial real

estate lending continues to be strong in Oklahoma and Colorado, but in other
areas of the Tenth District all types of real estate loans are weak.


bankers report that consumer instalment loans for automobiles are unchanged
from earlier low levels.

The recent rise in interest rates has raised bank

lending rates significantly above the rates offered by automobile finance
companies such as GMAC.

Other categories of consumer loans increased some-

what from last month's levels.
Deposits at most Tenth District banks contacted rose this past month,
with six-month and 30-month certificates showing the greatest strength in
response to the rise in interest rates.

Demand deposits experienced moderate

growth in regions with strong economic activity and are flat in most other areas.


Economic recovery in the Eleventh District is slowing as a result
of higher interest rates.

Residential construction is most affected, but a

growing number of firms are altering business decisions in light of higher

Department store sales are growing slowly, while new car sales

show little Improvement.

Nonresidential construction remains active, but

some plans for future projects are fading.
the demand for labor.

Growth of total bank loans is tapering off although

C&I loans continue to expand rapidly.
production loans.

Factory output is mixed, as is

Many farmers are unable to pay back

S&Ls report strong demands for available mortgage funds,

and deposits are increasing.
Department store sales are recovering slowly, according to survey

Soft goods, particularly

more strength than consumer durables.
Christmas sales.

clothing, are showing


Retailers are optimistic regarding

Retail inventories are in line with sales expectations.

New car sales continue to run about the level a month ago, and
dealers fear sharply higher sticker prices on the 1981 models will depress
sales further.

Trucks are outselling cars in some areas, and respondents

indicate demand for used cars is on the increase.

Dealers are trying to

hold down stocks of new cars because the recent rise in interest rates has
added significantly to inventory costs.

Good used cars are generally in

short supply.
Demand for housing continues to grow rapidly as indicated by a
persistant rise in prices, but high interest rates have slowed the recovery
in residential construction.

Current sales reflect the number of people

moving into the District and to a smaller degree purchasers who had commitments before interest rates rose.

The slowdown in homebuilding is causing

a modest buildup in inventories of unsold houses for some builders.
Nonresidential construction activity remains robust, especially
in the large urban areas.

But higher interest rates and the long-run out-

look for inflation are dampening future construction plans.
difficult to arrange from domestic sources.

Financing is

In addition to interest on

their loans, a growing number of lenders want a percentage of the rents or
an equity share of the ventures in which they participate.

Foreign funds

are readily available, with investors willing to provide high proportions
of equity and with returns on investments as low as 7 percent before

Financing by the Federal Government is being reduced for such pro-

jects as highway construction.
Manufacturing output remains mixed, and rising costs are cutting
profit margins.

High inventory levels of finished goods continue to de-

press production in refining and chemicals.

Output of most building mate-

rials has leveled off, but a maker of fiberglass insulation is running at
full production to rebuild inventories that were depleted during the summer
heat wave.

Lumber production is down, and prices of 2x4s, particle board,

and wallboard are off significantly from a year ago.


for steel

products continues to grow apace of commercial building, power plant construction, and the boom in oil field activities.

Electronics firms re-

ported a brief slowdown in shipments, but an acceleration in defense spending is offsetting a softening in consumer demand.
Current labor market conditions reflect the mix of economic activity in the District.

Unemployment is rising among construction workers,

while growth of manufacturing employment is abating.

Still, many employers

report shortages of skilled workers in a broad range of occupations.
The growth in volume of bank loans is slowing, largely as a result of the increase in interest rates.
mortgage loans, is down sharply.

Consumer borrowing, especially

Many banks are reluctant to make auto

loans as business loans are more profitable.

C&I loans continue to ex-

Much of the strength is related to oil and gas activities, but loans

are up in many manufacturing industries.

Total deposits are increasing at

District banks with demand deposits outpacing time deposits.
Preliminary results of our quarterly survey of agricultural credit conditions indicate the rate of loan repayment is slower than usual.
Severe drought conditions caused significant, widespread declines in crop
yields, and in some cases crop abandonments.

As a result, an unusually

large number of farmers are unable to repay production loans as scheduled.
Bankers also report many young farmers with high debt/equity positions may
not be able to withstand the drop in income caused by this year's crop

Government credit agencies have been actively making emergency

Deposit growth is strengthening at S&Ls.

Mortgage loan rates are

reported as high as 14 1/2 percent plus two points.

S&Ls report profits

are being squeezed by the high cost of funds, but the situation has eased
somewhat by the rollover of certificate accounts originated in the first

Mortgage loan demands are strongest in large urban areas, and 80

percent of all loan applications are by buyers moving into the Southwest.
Delinquencies remain at a low level.



The recession continues to be felt in the Twelfth District, as
sluggish economic activity was reported throughout the region.

Retail sales

generally were down despite increased promotional activities.

A variety

of labor issues were of major interest during the past month.

Strikes and

the potential for strikes involving a substantial number of workers were
reported throughout the district.

Interest rates and unemployment both

continue to be high and concern is expressed over this continuing phenomenon.
Mortgage loan demand has fallen drastically in response to movements in
interest rates.

Commercial loan demand has also fallen but large corporate

borrowing remains at its past rapid pace.

The agricultural picture remains

bright as good harvests and profits are anticipated.

Industrial activity

remains stable with little change in behavior expected.
The EMPLOYMENT picture in the region has centered on a variety
of labor negotiations.

Both the 71 day old Kennecott Copper strike and

the strike by winery workers have ended.

One mine workers' agreement has

been reached while another is still in negotiations.

The possibility of

an aerospace workers' strike involving over 30,000 employees was diverted
with the recent acceptance of a contract package.

The unemployment situation

is regarded as serious in many industries, but particularly in the automobile,
steel and construction sectors.

A notable exception to this situation is

the electronics industry where demand for skilled workers is still high.

A number of respondents feared that the unemployment picture for minorities
may aggravate racial tensions.
AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITY is reported to be good throughout the Twelfth

Excellent harvests are predicted for a variety of crops, with

record harvests expected in some areas.

The drought conditions in some

areas of the country have created high prices for a number of crops, especially

The current heat wave in some parts of the district has created

concern for the plum, peach, and nectarine harvests.

The high price of

cattle feed has brought on expectations of higher meat prices in the coming

However, given reports of increases in herd size, some believe

that increased supply will help to hold down meat prices next year.
Little change in the INDUSTRIAL sector was reported.

Most businesses

are continuing with past investment plans despite the rise in interest rates.
In general, investment activity is low and inventories are reported to be
below normal in a number of industries.
prices when the recovery begins.

This was created concern of higher

For some industries, the slack in domestic

business is made up by above normal foreign sales.
The recovery of RETAIL SALES continues to be slow.

Although some

areas are reporting an increase in sales brought about by seasonal factors,
retail sales in most areas are down.
below normal.

The use of credit cards is still way

While some specialty shops and more expensive stores are

reporting increased sales, most stores are reporting sluggish sales and
large inventories.

A number of areas note a sharp rise in promotional activity.

Whether this increase in advertising is in response to feelings of a shift
in consumer spending moods or an attempt to decrease inventories is uncertain.
Also present are reports of manufacturers offering discounts off list price.
The HOUSING market has been drastically hurt by the increase in
interest rates.

Mortgage rates of 14 percent and higher have severely reduced

the demand for mortgage loans.
has also been sharply curtailed.

The filing of permits for new construction
Property is staying on the market much

longer than in the past few months.

The lumber industry has been especially

hard hit by the decrease in housing activity.

Demand has been flat and

unemployment in the sector is very high.
The outlook for FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS is widely regarded as gloomy.
Expectations of higher costs and declining markets are expressed.

The rise

in interest rates has brought about an outflow of deposits as savers are
moving their funds to money market instruments.

Rising rates have also

had a dampening effect on the demand for loans by small borrowers.


the demand for loans by large corporate borrowers does not appear to be
affected by the increase in interest rates.

This stable behavior is believed

to be due to the fear of even higher rates in the future, deferment of longterm financing due to conditions in the bond market, and the relative narrowness
of spreads between the prime and commercial paper rates.
concern was expressed over the coming of NOW accounts.

A great deal of

Also discussed was

the potential for problems created by a change in the pricing behavior of
financial institutions brought on by movements towards deregulation.


concern was expressed about the increase in bankruptcies and loan losses.