Information about the Seventh Federal Reserve District states, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin; economic indicators; articles on Midwest issues; and news about conferences and projects.
Research Vice President Bill Testa and special guest commentators offer unique perspectives on the Midwest economy through this blog including topics such as energy, regional production and the auto industry.
On June 1–2, 2017, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held its 24th annual Automotive Outlook Symposium (AOS) at its Detroit Branch. In this blog entry, Thomas Klier and Martin Lavelle cover the first day’s panel, which was on autonomous vehicles and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The panel’s three experts focused on how these types of vehicles might affect personal mobility and the organization of our society; automotive manufacturers’ product planning; and energy usage. All of the speakers agreed that these innovations have the potential to play significant and disruptive roles in the automotive industry’s future. Yet, they all conceded that the speed at which these new technologies will be rolled out is still uncertain.
The Michigan Retail Index survey for May found 64 percent of the state’s retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 26 percent recorded declines and 10 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 66.5, up from 54.5 in April.
Looking forward, 63 percent of Michigan retailers expect sales during June–August to increase over the same period last year, while 11 percent project a decrease and 26 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 71.6, down from 74.3 in April but well above the 50 level.
Nationally, retail sales excluding autos and gasoline were flat in May, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
The Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency reported May’s year-over-year state sales tax revenues, not including autos, rose 9.8 percent to $557 million.
The Midwest Economy Index (MEI) decreased to +0.51 in May from +0.72 in April. Three of the four broad sectors of nonfarm business activity and four of the five Seventh Federal Reserve District states made positive contributions to the MEI in May. The relative MEI moved down to +0.09 in May from +0.65 in April. Three of the four sectors and three of the five states made positive contributions to the relative MEI in May.
In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted to having programmed nearly 11 million of its diesel vehicles to cheat on tailpipe emissions tests. To put VW’s emissions rigging into a broader context, the authors review the different approaches that the U.S. and Europe for testing and managing vehicle emissions.
According to the most recent AgLetter, Seventh District farmland values in the third quarter of 2016 were 3 percent lower than a year ago. Values for "good" agricultural land in the third quarter of 2016 were 1 percent lower than in the second quarter.
On December 2, 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held its annual economic outlook symposium. Presentations and a press release from the symposium are online.
On May 31, 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held its annual automotive symposium. Twenty-seven industry experts provided a consensus on the economy in 2016 and 2017. Presentations and a press release from the symposium are online. A Chicago Fed Letter offers a summary of the symposium and the participants' forecasts.
Seventh District farmland values in the first quarter of 2014 were 1 percent higher than a year ago. Values for “good” agricultural land in the first quarter of 2014 were 1 percent lower than in the fourth quarter of 2013.
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Source: Chicago Fed staff calculations based on data from Haver Analytics.
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Midwest Economy events dating back through 2010 are available below. Many of our earlier events are available on our Past Events page and our conference series pages (links in the sidebar).