ByThomas C. Melzer
This issue of The Regional Economist is significant to me for two reasons. First, and most important, it marks the publication's fifth birthday. Second, it's the last time my name and photo will appear on this page: I have announced my resignation from the St. Louis Fed, effective Jan. 1, 1998.
In reviewing the publication's five-year history, I was pleased to rediscover the broad range of contemporary economic developments we've analyzed—the restructuring of American business, the consolidation of the banking industry, the shift of budget dollars from the federal government to the states, the influx of immigrants, the growth of mutual funds and derivatives, and the attempts at Social Security and tax reform. Over the same period, we've also held a magnifying glass to trends in the microeconomy: ATM surcharges, light rail systems, cable TV deregulation, riverboat gambling and smart cards.
Finally, we've taken the pulse of our own seven-state region, by monitoring its health in the various sectors of the national economy in which it participates—exports, agriculture and auto manufacturing, among others—and by publishing regional data through which we can compare ourselves to the rest of the nation. Along the way, we've also made design improvements to the publication and begun providing it electronically on the Internet (www.stls.frb.org).
With half a decade of exploration and explanation behind us, we decided to take stock of The Regional Economist and determine how best to shape its future. That's where you, our readers, come in. Some of you will notice a subscriber survey enclosed in this issue, which we hope you will find the time to fill out and return to us. Those of you who haven't received a formal survey are urged, as always, to comment informally on the publication in writing, or by phone or e-mail. Let us know: Is The Regional Economist valuable to you? How could it be better? What do you like best about it? What could you do without? Your views will guide us as we plan future issues.
Although it's not yet known whose picture will appear on this page in the issues to come, I have little doubt that my successor will feel as privileged to be a part of this publication—and this institution—as I have been during the past 12 years. The diverse and abundant talents of the St. Louis employees, the quality of the work they do, and their strong commitment to furthering the Federal Reserve's mission have made an impression on me that will last well into the future.