Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Minnesota economy "tepid" but still above zero 

The Creighton University survey of the Mid-American states found that while inflation is a concern for business executives, Minnesota is doing at least OK.
�Durable-goods producers in the state reported healthy business activity for May. The cheap U.S. currency, especially against the Canadian dollar, has been an important ingredient in Minnesota�s economy and has partially offset weakness in other areas. The May new export orders index was a healthy 61.8,� said [Prof. Ernie] Goss.
Whenever we've surveyed local businesses, the dollar does not come up as a significant factor in the health of their firms. Still, unlike some gloomy Gusses, Goss' survey comes up with results that support the data we are observing right now.

I was in the car yesterday in the Cities, as usual tuned to the Patriot, when I hear my own name in the newscast. Apparently the Minnesota News Network picked up my comments to a local radio station last week on expecting gas prices to stay where they are right now. This morning Ben Bernanke's comments on the dollar have put crude prices below $124. Not much off the peak, but a start. And the morning news on factory orders has bolstered some comments I've made in the last week or two that perhaps sunlight is peeking through the economy's dark clouds. This is not a comment on whether or not we have actually missed having a recession -- business cycle dating committees are above my pay grade -- but on what may come next.

My lack of blog output is in no small part from writing the new QBR; first draft is at the editors' place. See this space for more as it heads to press.

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