I just finished my 23rd year teaching at the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. My responsibilities include teaching the rural and small business lending class and team-teaching interpreting economic change with Dr. Tom Payne of University of Tennessee-Martin. Over 500 students from nearly 20 states and Mexico were in attendance this year.
We conducted an interesting survey in the interpreting economic change class of 160 students at the request of the students. It involved two topics: Who will win the U.S. and Mexican elections this summer and fall? Where will the U.S. economy be in June 2013?
Students were asked two questions pertaining to the elections. First, who do you think will win the Presidential election this fall? Second, who do you plan to vote for? Sixty-four percent thought President Obama would be reelected, compared to 36% for candidate Romney. However, results of the written surveys were different on the second question. Sixteen percent would vote for President Obama, while 79% would vote for Romney, and 5% planned to vote for Libertarian candidate Ron Paul. Sixty-one percent of the Mexican bankers in attendance would vote for President Obama, while 39% would vote for Romney.
Shifting to the Mexican elections that will take place on July 1, 95% of the bankers did not know any of the four candidates. Candidates Nieto and Mota were the choices of the American bankers who did know the candidates. Sixty-one percent of the Mexican bankers planned to vote for Nieto, while 24% planned to vote for Mota, with the other two candidates garnering the remainder of the votes. Interestingly enough, Mexico is the United States' fourth-largest trading partner; however, there seems to be little knowledge about their candidates from North of the border.
The class predicted U.S. economic growth, unemployment rate and interest rate levels for June 2013 in a written survey, as well. After averaging all the responses, the bankers thought that the U.S. economy would be growing at 2.3% GDP in June 2013, compared to 1.9% today. The average projected U.S. unemployment rate was 8.6% in 2013. Twenty percent of the class thought it would be above 9% and 36% thought it would be below 8%. Forty-three percent of the class stated that the Fed funds rate would remain the same, while 29% felt that it would be above 50 basis points in June of 2013, and the others indicated the rate would be 0.25-0.50%.
While this group is not representative of the general population, they do provide us with some points to ponder.
Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.