President's Message: A New Look at the Regional Economy

Thomas C. Melzer

Welcome to the premiere issue of The Regional Economist. With The Regional Economist, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is broadening both its audience for and its coverage of economic issues affecting the Eighth Federal Reserve District. If you subscribed to Pieces of Eight, our previous regional economic quarterly, or were invited to a St. Louis Fed-hosted meeting in the past few years, you have in one way or another contributed to the development of this new publication.

The Regional Economist was borne of the many comments we've received from District bankers, educators, and business and community leaders about your interest in the regional economy and the lack of available information about it. As you've told us, national economic numbers and news stories don't always tell the story of your region.

In response to your comments, we decided to reevaluate Pieces of Eight in the hope of making our regional economic publication more appealing to a nonacademic audience.

We started by soliciting your opinions. We surveyed Pieces of Eight readers (almost half of you responded) and asked some of you attending our meetings to complete a questionnaire. You asked for a quarterly publication that covered a wider range of topics. You wanted short, readable articles that analyze economic issues with a regional perspective. You were also interested in background discussions of economic issues in the news, the workings of the Federal Reserve and regional economic statistics.

We hope you'll find all of this and more in The Regional Economist. Each issue will feature three main articles—a six-page lead article on an economic topic with regional implications, a two-page primer on a current economic topic, and a two-page briefing on economic conditions in the Eighth District or a specific economic indicator. Some shorter pieces and regional economic statistics will supplement the three main articles. The information is presented with an inviting use of color, subheadings and sidebars.

In our first issue, Michelle Clark looks at the two main problems with health insurance in the United States—rising costs and diminished availability—and discovers some innovative solutions to these problems. Kevin Kliesen, in a backgrounder on monetary policy and the business cycle, explains why the Federal Reserve might find it difficult to counteract the cyclical swings in economic activity. And Adam Zaretsky traces the trends in exports around the District, finding the news generally upbeat.

With The Regional Economist, we think we have a good answer to your question: Where can I get more regional economic information? Please let us know what you think. Happy reading.


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