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Upper Midwest Research and
Development Council

May 23, 1953

THE FEDERAL RESERVE BARK OF MINNEAPOLIS'
INTEREST IN OUR AREA'S ECONOMIC GROWTH

I take pleasure in reviewing with you the Federal Reserve Bank's
interest in regional economic development, for that subject has long been
one of keen interest to me.

To put that interest in proper perspective,

however, it will be helpful to spend a few minutes discussing the broad
objectives and obligations of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis which
is just one part of our central banking system.

These obligations and

objectives logically entail certain restrictions and certain areas of relevant
participation by the Minneapolis Bank in a general program of area development.
We perform a number of functions in the Minneapolis Bank and in our
judgment they are all useful functions.

The ones which are best known and

the ones which employ the most people are our operating functions such as
handling checks and money.

There is no question but that these are valuable

services and there is no real question but that they are typical central
banking services.

Our key function, however, is one that requires relatively

few people and is the one function that is clearly identified with central
banking the world over.

The key function of a Federal Reserve Bank is to

participate with the Board of Governors and the other eleven banks in formu­
lating and carrying out monetary and credit policy.

The major difference

between the Federal Reserve System (the central bank of the United States)
and most other central banks is that our System is organized along regional
lines with a Federal Reserve Bank in each of twelve districts.

To my mind

this regional organization is one of the great strengths of the Federal
Reserve System for it permits the evolution of a national monetary policy
framed with an appreciation of regional differences.



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Each of the Reserve Banks attempts to keep itself informed as to
the structure of the district economy and its credit institutions, as to
current developments in its district, as to the impact of district develop­
ments upon the national economy, and as to the impact of national develop­
ments, programs and policies upon the district economy.

Against this back­

ground of information and understanding the representatives of the Reserve
Banks and the members of the Board of Governors discuss and consider the
national economic and credit situation and thus formulate national monetary
policy.

That policy is formulated with awareness of and with sensitivity

to the facts of regional economics.
policy in this way.

I believe we get a better national

In viewing the role of the individual Federal Reserve

Bank in area development then, it must be borne in mind that the bank is
an integral part of the Federal Reserve System.
As 1 see it, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has, as does
any other Federal Reserve Bank, three direct areas of practical interest
with respect to economic growth and development within its boundary.

The

first is that of an operating agency performing a multiplicity of services
and functions for its member banks in particular, and for the financial and
business community in general.

We are therefore beset, as are many of the

companies you gentlemen represent, with the task of estimating future growth
prospects, particularly for bank financial transactions.
Secondly, we have a personal stake in the health of the area's
economy and in the successful results of those who promote its industrial
growth - this simply as good neighbors in the business community.

As

officers and employees of the Minneapolis Bank, we are all residents of the
area.

From this springs a genuine interest in sound economic growth and in

taking a cooperative part as individuals in the planning of local or area-wide
research and development programs.



We are faced with some natural limitations

in this work simply because we are a public rather than a private institu­
tion, but these are not particularly serious.
Third, and this is the area of interest on the part of the Federal
Reserve Bank of Minneapolis with which I propose to deal in the remaining
portion of my talk, is economic research.

This research effort - broadly

defined as the job of measuring, analyzing and interpreting underlying
trends in the economy - is one which I am sure will be of direct interest
and value to the Upper Midwest Research and Development Council, in view of
the objectives expressed in paragraph 5b of the Council's basic document:
"To encourage preparation of statistical information bearing on /the
economic growth of our area/ with analysis of same by existing organizations
and institutions."
Let's talk briefly then about the basic objectives of the research
function in the Federal Reserve Banks and see how this relates to economic
development.
The special characteristics of the research function in the Federal
Reserve System grow out of the special characteristics of the System itself.
The System is the nation's monetary authority and is endowed by law with
certain powers by which it can influence the supply, cost and availability
of credit for the purpose of producing beneficial effects in the nation's
economy at large.
The pursuit of this general objective makes it necessary that the
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and each Federal Reserve
Bank engage in a program of economic research to which there are no a priori
limits, but only those imposed by canons of good judgment as to the value
of the results obtained in relation to the cost.

The basic objective of the

research function, i.e., to provide the broad foundation of economic informa­
tion and analysis needed for intelligent policy action, is quite general in



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character.

4

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In practice it resolves itself into the equally basic but more

specific objective of developing a flow of statistical data and a fund of
analytical and interpretative material in those special areas of investiga­
tion that are particularly important to the System in the discharge of its
legal responsibilities.

These fall into three areas;

first, studies in

the field of central banking and the commercial banking system; second,
research in the development, maintenance, improvement and analysis of a
sufficient number of significant statistical series to adequately depict
current economic conditions and trends and current monetary and credit
conditions and developments; and third, the analytical and interpretative
study of the economies of the various Federal Reserve districts.
Statistics seldom carry their own explanation on their face.
They are designed to answer the questions "what" and "when* . For better
understanding, however, they should be supplemented by studies answering
the questions "why" and "where".

The dissimilarity in the economies of

the various districts, their different rates, patterns and directions of
economic development, their different degrees of responsiveness to general
economic changes, and the varying impact of System policies within these
different regional settings, are all matters of which policy makers should
be fully aware.
At the Minneapolis Bank we are carrying out research in each of
these three areas.

We perform, of course, a continuing analysis of the

problems of central banking.

We also meet the second group of objectives

by carrying on a program of statistical measurement of the district economy
including efforts to improve coverage and accuracy.

Let me assure you, in

reference to the paragraph from the Council's articles quoted earlier, that
the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis needs no encouragement in the
preparation of statistical information, for we have long viewed this as



5

.

an important aspect of our work.

-

We have recently given special emphasis

to the third area - that of studying the economy of the Ninth District.

Out

of this emphasis has crystallised a longer term program of regional research.
Both the second and third areas of research should prove interesting mid
useful to this Council.

Therefore, let me outline and illustrate briefly

the nature of these programs.
(1)

Statistical measures
As you no doubt know, the Federal Reserve Banks have collected and

published statistical series on business and finance for many years (releases
on bank debits, building permits, and department store sales are illustrative).
Currently we are working out a summary called ECONOMIC INDICATORS.

This

summary contains monthly data for the Ninth District and comparable national
data for several business and financial items.

Figures are given for both

the absolute amount (i.e., dollars worth of department store sales or number
of insured unemployed) and percentage change.

This series of monthly measures

will be as up-to-date at the time it is issued as we possibly can make it.
The purpose is to provide a current gauge of the economic pulse, if you will,
of our district.
Additional measures will be added in the future, and work on some
of these has already been started.

I will describe two.

Personal income data. A project which we have had underway now for
some time concerns itself with developing a current measure of income to
individuals in the Ninth District.

Our very preliminary efforts are shown

on Chart 1, where a monthly estimate of personal income has been built up
from estimates of several components - agricultural income, manufacturing
and nonmanufacturing wages, transfer payments and property income.

I do not

know yet whether we can carry this on with any accuracy but we do intend to
continue working on it and one day you may see this as a regular part of our


http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/
Economic
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Indicators.

6
Within the framework of income measurement there are many other
ways of 'cutting the cake'.

For one thing we might try to express total

income, not from the standpoint of sources but from the standpoint of
disposition of income - that is, how much of it goes each month into
consumption spending and how much of it goes into saving.

Or, instead of

concentrating on district totals for small time periods (months), we might
work with annual income totals, attempting to identify their occurrence
by small areas (for example, by counties or county economic groupings).
By an additional step we may convert many of these income figures
to ratios such as per capita income. This is, of course, already available
by states on an annual basis from the Department of Commerce, as illustrated
on Chart 2, here behind me.

But, as you might imagine, estimates of this

kind of indicator made, say, quarterly for each state, or made annually
for each county, would provide additional working material for groups such
as this.

In short, we recognize that accurate and comprehensive measure­

ment of income flows is a useful requisite to the kind of development work
we all are interested in, as well as basic to the more refined study of our
region’ economy.
s
Industrial Production Index.

I xrould like to mention just one

other statistical project now under way in our research department. We
are working on the development of a monthly industrial production index to
augment our monthly economic indicators. For this we are drawing on exper­
ience accumulated at other Federal Reserve Banks to establish the appropriate
techniques for building an estimate of industrial production trends in our
district based largely on industrial electrical power consumption.
I think the foregoing comments are sufficient to acquaint you
with the nature of our statistical measurement program.

As you see, we

hope to learn much more about the month-by-month performance of our district



-

economy.

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I am sure that you can Identify many ways in which the Upper

Midwest Research and Development Council may put to work these data as
and when they become available, and in the same way the information may
be useful to other groups.

One of these is to compare growth among our

district states and with the nation at large on a multiplicity of factors.
A second way in which they might be used is as a diagnostic device, par­
ticularly where small area statistics such as county data are available
over a period of time.

One might, for example, utilize these data to

identify low income areas or declining income areas.

This is not to say

that low income areas necessarily need 'booster programs' to raise income rather they may simply be 'uneconomic' areas which need to adjust to a
lower level of economic activity by the outward migration of population.
(2)

Regional research
The activity we have just described, that of classification and

measurement, is recognizably an elementary stage of research activity that
forms a very helpful basis for more advanced work.

Regional research as

we see it, should go beyond this and seek to find the interrelationships
between the factors measured and to identify underlying trends that may
shed light on growth prospects.

We at the Bank have carefully examined

possible roles we might assume in pressing an imaginative and useful program
of regional research.

While we are still in the process of fully formulating

this program it might be fruitful to outline the current stage of our thinking.
Within our program of regional research two broad though closely
related divisions are recognized;

these are:

Income studies and resource

studies.
(a)
directions.




Our interest in income studies springs from a number of
In the first place, this is directly related to the other

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aspects of income payments I mentioned earlier.

Also in our modern ex-

change-dependent economy, money flows have an especially intriguing
property in that they often trace out in reverse direction the transactions
of economic goods and services.

Each element of flow represents someone's

receipts and someone else's expenditure.

Consequently, careful study of

these movements should reveal much about the geographic patterns of
economic activity and the interrelationships among the various segments
or levels of our economy.

And, of course, the fact that flows of money

via check routing are a bread-and-butter aspect of our operations, that
money itself is a direct part of our operations and policy, and that many
statistical records of this movement are directly accessible to us, makes
the study of money movements and income flows a very natural one for us.
Preliminary work has already been accomplished within the Federal Reserve
System on the subject of interregional flow of funds.
In our examination of income flows in the Ninth District a very
broad spectrum of possible studies presents itself for useful work.

For

example, the relationship between income growth and industrialization of
an area is yet to be examined.

What is the effect of growth and decline

in national income on district income?

Why, for example, is per capita

income highest among district states in Montana and lowest in North Dakota?
What is the cause and what is the meaning of this situation?
role of 'export' income for a particular small area?
significance?
district?

What is the

What is its economic

What is the relationship between savings and income in our

Is the Ninth District a capital importer?

I am sure that you

will recognize here research problems that would prove of interest to a
great many groups, public and private alike.

Our plans call for early

efforts in some important aspect of this broad field of income studies on
a cooperative basis with universities and colleges.



Our future plans will

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9

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make more room for cooperative effort with other research agencies in
the district whereby we may mutually exchange ideas and share the fruits
of work in areas in which we seek answers to common problems.
(b)

Resource studies.

I think it safe to say that understanding

regional growth - how it has taken place and what its likely future course
will be - is perhaps the fundamental objective of our regional research
program.

For this is really the dynamic framework within which our

month-to-month analysis of business and our establishment of regional
policies take place.

What we are doing in our resource studies is to

select a relatively small number of basic resource industries based on
their income contributing potential for our district.
Let me illustrate this point by reference to our agricultural
industries.

You will note that Chart 1 indicates in a quantitative way

the segment of monthly personal income in our district provided by agri­
cultural enterprise.

On Chart 3 the income from agriculture is broken

down according to major source.

These data would suggest that a study of

8 or 10 types of agricultural industries in the Ninth District will cover
the great bulk of the income-generating sources in agriculture.

Further­

more, by studying carefully and on an individual basis each of these
industries - the physical, economic and resource factors underlying them,
and the trends that have operated within them - we can by adding up the
effects thus noted, assemble a much better picture of the prospects for
agriculture as a whole in our district.

You can see that the major source

of income is cattle and calves, accounting for 23 percent of total agri­
cultural cash receipts in 1956.

Dairying, second among "livestock and its

products", has declined relative to other sources since prewar times.
Cattle and calves (actually two separate industries: range beef production
on the one hand and feed-lot beef production on the other) has increased



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since prewar times the share of district income it supplies.

As part of

our regional research program, then, we have already begun an analysis of
some of these major industries and some work on this score may be forth­
coming this year.
We have grown aware, by virtue of many requests for information
that come to us very frequently, that there is keen and growing interest
on the part of firms both inside and outside the district in prospects for
this region.

A number of firms studying the possibilities of decentralizing

into this region have come to us seeking objective facts about the potential
of one part or another of our district.

It has been somewhat embarrassing

to be unable to supply them with the kind of 'hard-headed* facts they have
wanted.

They would ask, for example, "We’ heard about your oil develop­
ve

ment out here in the Williston Basin, but what is this going to mean for
the area in terms of future spending power?

How many jobs is it going to

provide in, say, ten years?1
'
Or, "We've heard about this taconite development, but where's the
growth potential here?

Isn't this just a replacement activity?

this going to affect Minneapolis?"

How is

Well, the unfortunate fact is that no

really good appraisal of the dollars and cents meaning of these developments
to the area, or their employment and income possibilities exists, in spite
of the great volumes of publicity that have gone out referring to "Billion
dollar investment", "Coming boom", and the like.
This is the sort of gap in information that we hope to help fill,
and note that I said "help fill".

We shall include as a part of our re­

source studies an appraisal of the future potential and prospects for several
of these major income sources in the Ninth District.




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We have chosen (or are in the process of choosing) what we gauge
to be the key aonagricultural industries on which to concentrate regional
analysis efforts.

These resource areas are chosen because they are either

actually or potentially important income generators in this region - an
identical criterion to that used on the agricultural resources I previously
referred to.

By thus identifying only the key subjects for study, we feel

we can limit the number of units of study to a practical scale of endeavor.
Illustrative of the areas slated for systematic study are petroleum pro­
duction, iron ore mining and beneficiation, and timber production.
Perhaps the most useful feature of this series of studies as we
envision them, whether touching on agriculture, mineral resources or some
other phase of industry, is this notion they will all be conducted with
the advance idea of putting the individual pasts together to form an
integrated whole.

The entire group of individual studies when completed

may be bound together as a reference work covering the major primary
industries in our district.

Or for those interested in a certain area,

say, western North Dakota, the selection of a few pertinent studies range cattle, wheat, petroleum, and such - would provide basic reference
material on the economy of that specific area for many special uses:
evidence at public hearings, industrial promotion, to name a few.
Well, that in brief is our regional research program and it is
clearly a large order.

So much so that you may have concluded by now that

either we have a staff of virtually unlimited proportions, or we are
uncontainable dreamers.

Let me assure you neither is the case.

The saving

feature here is that it is not necessary - nor even desirable for that
matter - that we do all the work.

In the first place, such an undertaking

requires the contribution of many specialized skills, for, of course, the
analysis of any resource must be based on sound physical appraisals, on an



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understanding of the technical factors in the field, as well as on an
appreciation for the broad economic factors involved.

Fortunately much

basic material is already available, and a great number of separate
appraisals varying from comprehensive to specialized in scope exist in
the literature.

We ourselves have carried out some amount of resource

study in the past axid will, of course, draw on this as well as on all
existing work known to us.

But in addition we feel the wide interest in

this project makes it possible and practical to carry out many aspects of
this research in a cooperative way.
To summarize, you can see that the Federal Reserve Bank of
Minneapolis does have an interest in our area*8 growth, and that this
interest expresses itself largely through the medium of regional economic
research.

In fact, economic growth in this district is essentially the

theme of our regional economic research program.