Transcripts of the monetary policymaking body of the Federal Reserve from 2002–2008.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me just briefly say that, in our region, we have continued to do actually better than the national average, but that is beginning to wane. We are seeing, obviously, the energy effect show itself as rigs are being put out of production and you see a slowing there. We are seeing some concerns being raised about agricultural prices and the boom that has been going on in that part of the economy.

That said, there’s still a reasonable amount of business going on that they haven’t frozen up. We asked our directors and our other advisers how they were seeing things, and it varies. There were some organizations that say that our non-investment-grade borrowers from the banks, if they had credit already, are still able to access those lines. If they lost some portion because of a bank problem or something like that, they cannot get new credit, so it is cut off in that way. I think that’s important to keep in mind. Businesses themselves are beginning to pull back on their capital plans. They’ve said that. Their balance sheets—obviously outside the auto industry—are still decent, but they’re saying, “We’re looking at this, and we’re pulling back until we see how it plays out.” You are beginning to hear more of that. They feel that they can get credit. Some of them are talking about actually trying to pull down their lines to make sure they have the money, and the only thing keeping them from doing that is they don’t know what to do with it once they get it. So that’s their dilemma. They’re afraid of losing their credit, but they also know that it costs if they pull it down. So the dynamics there are interesting.

On the national outlook, I’ll be brief. I think that obviously the projections for recession are in place. Down is where we’re going. How much, though, is speculation right now. I don’t know. I don’t know that anyone does until we begin to see things settle out. Inflation should be down as well. Obviously, when you have a recession, you will back off from that, but how much? That’s not clear at this point. There is a lot in play, and that’s why we don’t know the answers to those questions. We have these liquidity facilities and an enormous amount of liquidity out. We have the TARP that is now in process but not completed. That’s going to have an impact, and I think those are very important. As we discuss our own policy, we are very close to the point of the quantitative easing discussion that we had, as you said, in 2003. Pulling that material out and taking a look at that is important as we decide what we’re going to put our money into as we try to stimulate this economy. Right now we’re subject to waiting and seeing. There’s been a lot done, and attitudes are a critical part of this now, and we just have to wait to see how those change over the next quarter or two. Thank you.

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