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Rural Mainstreet Index Near Growth Neutral

Creighton University Thursday released the monthly Rural Mainstreet Index Survey. Survey organizer Ernie Goss says the survey is trending mostly sideways.

Goss; “It is. This of course is a survey of bank CEOs in rural areas in ten states and the overall index is sort of moving sideways with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates and is cooling economic activity, but not as much as the Federal Reserve would like. So, we’re staring down and another rate hike in March.”

Goss reported the overall rate was slightly lower than last month, at 50.1, yet the third straight month above the growth neutral level of 50. “It did come down from January, but with the Fed raising rates as they have, we’re looking at prime interest rate that’s a good four and three quarters percent higher than it was this time last year. So, the Fed has really been on a tear, I’d say the biggest tear in terms of raising rates since the early 1980s.”

Despite that, Goss says the farm sector is doing slightly better than others on rural main street; “The ag sector remains a little bit better than the rest of the economy. In other words, the Rural Mainstreet economy, that’d be retailers and others on main street, not doing as well as the farm sector. The farm sector, we’re seeing for example, farmland prices continuing to expand, and particularly we’re seeing that in Iowa, we’re seeing some very high prices going to farmland breaker record prices, for example.”

Story provided by NAFB News Service and George Bower, KICD, Spencer, Iowa

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