Friday, January 19, 2018

Farm Economy: "Rural Mainstreet Index Sinks for January: Rising Farm Loan Defaults Identified as Greatest 2018 Challenge"

From Creighton University, January 18:
January Survey Results at a Glance:
*  The overall index sank from December’s weak reading and remained below growth neutral.
*  Approximately 40 percent of bank CEOs named rising loan defaults as the greatest economic challenge for 2018.
*  More than seven in 10 bankers expect that the abolition of NAFTA would have a negative impact on their economic area.
*  For the 50th straight month, the farmland price index sank below growth neutral.

OMAHA, Neb. (Jan. 18, 2018) – The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index declined slightly in January from December’s weak reading, remaining below growth neutral, according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, like all indices in the survey, ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, fell to 46.8 from 47.8 in December. Though the overall index remained below growth neutral, it is significantly higher than the reading for January 2017.

“While the overall Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for January declined and remained below growth neutral, year-over-year indices are trending higher. Clearly, based on our recent surveys, the negatives are getting less negative,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

When asked to name the greatest 2018 economic challenge for their banks, four in 10 bankers reported that loan defaults represented the biggest challenges for the year ahead. This is well ahead of the second ranked challenge of competition from Farm Credit coming in at 15.6 percent.

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for January rose to 42.2 from 39.8 in December. This is the 50th straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0. ...

The story at the Omaha World-Herald (a Berkshire Hathaway company):

Bankers see rocky road ahead for rural Midwest, and NAFTA worries aren't helping
The rural Midwest remains in an economic slump, and worries about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement are adding pessimism to the outlook for 2018, a Creighton University survey of rural bankers showed.

The survey’s Rural Mainstreet Index dropped to 46.8 from 47.8 in December on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 being growth-neutral and figures below that showing economic decline.

Creighton economist Ernie Goss said the survey’s confidence index, reflecting the six-month outlook of the 180 bankers responding to the survey, fell to a pessimistic 46.7 from an optimistic 51.2 in December....MORE