Concerns Over Trade Weigh Heavily on Rural Bankers
The confidence index is a sub-category of the broader RMI. It reflects expectations for the economy six months out. It sank from 58 in March to 50 this month. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral.
The overall RMI slipped in April but remained above growth neutral for a third straight month.
Goss said that indicates an upward trend with improving economic growth. "However, weak farm income continues to weigh on the rural economy," said Goss.
The RMI also shows bankers in the ten-state district have concerns about un-resolved trade matters. Recent trade spats, including implemented and proposed tariffs against China, have reverberated throughout agricultural areas of the region.
More than three-fourths (76.2%) of bank CEOs reported that export markets were very important to their local economy.
The RMI survey showed almost one third (31%) of bankers support dismantling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and striking a new agreement. Forty percent support the current pact with Canada and Mexico.
The index is based on the results of a monthly survey of bank CEOs in 200 rural and farming areas of a 10-state region covering parts of the Midwest and Great Plains. The average population is 1,300 people. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included.