ST. LOUIS — The April edition of The Regional Economist, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis' quarterly publication of economic and business issues, features the following articles. (The publication is also available on the Bank's web site: http://stlouisfed.org/publications.)
- "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Dangerous?" The U.S. current account deficit has been increasing as a percentage of gross domestic product since the early 1990s, leading to concern that the inevitable adjustment in the current account is likely to be a "hard landing," characterized by a dramatic decline in the foreign exchange value of the dollar, stagnation and instability. Economists Cletus C. Coughlin, Michael R. Pakko and St. Louis Fed president William Poole analyze the current account deficit and conclude that the hard-landing scenario seems unlikely—provided that U.S. monetary and fiscal authorities maintain sound policies. They argue that the current account adjustment can be fairly slow and orderly, and it may not begin for some time.
- "Social Changes Lead Married Women into Labor Force." Between 1995 and 1999, the rate of women in the labor force jumped by almost 25 percentage points, most of which can be attributed to the rise of married women's participation in the labor force. Researcher Kristie M. Engemann and economist Michael Owyang cite several reasons for the latter's increase, such as labor-saving devices at home, the birth-control pill and an increased preference by some men to marry women who want to work outside the home. While finding no one definitive reason for the increase, they note that innovations in economic behavior can result from social change.
- "Home Ownership: Movin' On Up." After being stuck at about 64 percent for three decades, the rate of home ownership is on the rise again. Analyzing the trend, economist William T. Gavin finds that more young people, poor people and minorities are buying homes nowadays, probably due to financial innovations that allow first-time homebuyers, particularly young people, to have initially lower down payments.
- "District Overview: Jefferson City, Springfield and Columbia, Mo., and Little Rock, Ark." In this continuing series, Jefferson City, Springfield and Columbia, Mo., have bounced back from the recession much stronger than did jobs for Missouri as a whole. The recovery in Little Rock, however, has been much slower.
- "Community Profile: Jeffersonville, Ind." This small town on the Ohio River is doing big business, thanks to a boom in barge building and a boost in demand for port services from the manufacturers in nearly "automotive and appliance alley."
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