- Overall index climbs to highest reading for 2019. It also marked the fourth time in the past five months that the overall index has risen above growth neutral.
- The trade war with China and the lack of passage of the USMCA are driving confidence and the economic outlook lower for most areas of the region.
- On average, bankers, expect a 1.3% expansion with 17.1% of bank CEOs anticipating a decline in retail sales from last year.
- Bankers reported that approximately 16.7% of farmers and 5.5% of business owners in their area had no organization succession plan.
Overall: The overall index rose to 54.2 from 51.4 in October. Although still tepid, this is the highest reading for 2019. It also marked the fourth time in the past five months that the overall index rose above growth neutral.
“Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices have boosted the Rural Mainstreet Index slightly above growth neutral for the month. Given a continued weak rural economy, bank CEOs, on average, expect holiday buying to increase by only 1.3% above last year’s levels,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.
Jeff Bonnett, president of Havana National Bank in Havana, Illinois, reported that, “The latest harvests are showing significant declines in test weights leading to the point that 2019 harvest production looks to be running below average.” Bonnett goes on to say that grain prices are still sitting at extremely low levels for such yields.
Farming and Ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for November increased slightly to a weak 40.4 from October’s 40.3. This is the 72nd straight month the index has remained below growth neutral 50.0.
The November farm equipment-sales index declined to 37.5 from October’s 39.7. This marks the 74th month the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0.