When The Regional Economist was launched in January of 1993, its intent—as stated by my predecessor, Tom Melzer—was to fill the gap between the economic data and news stories taking place at the national level and those occurring closer to home.
Six years later, the country and the Eighth Federal Reserve District have a new and improved economy, and the St. Louis Fed has a new (I dare not claim improved!) president. What hasn't changed, though, is this publication's commitment to analyzing the regional economy. Beginning with this issue, we have strengthened that commitment, by adding a new section, "Regional Report" [ed: now called "Community Profiles"] and revamping our regional data section.
In the Regional Report section, we'll provide you with some insight and analysis on an Eighth District town or area that has undergone a significant economic change. In this issue, for example, we traveled to Evansville, Ind., to uncover the "secrets" of its recent economic success. The reports won't always be positive—not when plants and military bases are still closing and natural disasters like floods and tornadoes continue to strike. In any case, the goal is to show the impact that a single factor or group of factors can have on the economy of a small region or town, many of which are found in the Eighth Federal Reserve District.
At the back of the publication, you'll find our revised data section. We've redone these pages to make them more appealing, in terms of content and presentation. We've also added a one-page textual analysis of recent economic developments in the Eighth District and the nation as a whole.
Now that I've told you what we're going to do, the question becomes why. Indeed, why, when the rest of the world seems concerned mainly with the globalization of financial markets, would we not only continue, but even expand, our commitment to regional economic news? The answer is simple: Good economics, like good politics, is local.
To make sound economic decisions at the national level, we must have a firm grasp of what is happening at the local level—and why. When the Federal Open Market Committee meets eight times a year to decide what to do (or not do) about interest rates, its members are basing their decisions in large part on information culled from towns all across the country.
The flip side of the coin is equally important. By providing regional news and numbers, we hope to help residents of the Eighth Federal Reserve District understand how the local economy is influenced by national and international economic conditions.
The reasons for "bothering" with regional-level data then are evident to me, and I hope to you, as well. After all, we didn't name this publication The Regional Economist for nothing.