Most Midwestern Bankers Opposed Lehman Bailout

By Beacon Staff

OMAHA – A survey of bank CEOs in 11 Midwestern and Plains states shows nearly 90 percent strongly opposed a government bailout of Lehman Brothers, which was forced into bankruptcy earlier this week.

More than half the bankers surveyed also said they thought mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be privatized.

Meanwhile, the Rural Mainstreet Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, plunged to a record low of 38.5, down from August’s 38.9.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss and Bill McQuillan, CEO of City National Bank in Greeley, Neb., created the monthly economic survey of rural bank CEOs in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The average community population covered by the survey is about 1,300.

Last September, the index was at a much healthier 55.6.

“We are seeing big increases in operating expenses due to fuel and fertilizer prices,” said Kathy Thuman, president of Farmers State Bank in Maywood, Neb. “At some point, the expenses will offset the good commodity prices.”

The new-hiring index for September indicated a loss of jobs, with a record low reading of 28.6, down from August’s 36.5.

Farm equipment sales remained healthy, with the index rising to 58.9.

Retail sales were weak, with the index at 32.8, down from 33.9 in August.