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The Sandy Spring Way

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) put the performance of the U.S. economy on the table last week to be gnawed over by world markets.

June 17th, 2013 | By Beau Mercer

Brian OettingerLike a host at a dinner party, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) put the performance of the U.S. economy on the table last week to be gnawed over by world markets. When the IMF presented its annual review of the world’s largest economy, it stated that:

“Despite some improvements in economic indicators, particularly in the housing market, the very rapid pace of deficit reduction… is slowing growth significantly… U.S. growth is expected to slow to 1.9 percent in 2013, from 2.2 percent in 2012. This projection reflects the impact of the sequester ($85 billion of automatic U.S. government spending cuts), and the expiration of the payroll tax cut and the increase in tax rates for high-income taxpayers…Growth could pick up to 2.7 percent next year with a more moderate fiscal adjustment and a further strengthening of the housing market.”

The IMF also said the Federal Reserve should continue quantitative easing through 2013.

It was not the only one pondering the Fed’s quantitative easing program. The major U.S. stock market indices finished the week lower. The Dow Jones Industrials Average fell 1.2 percent last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was off by 1 percent, and the NASDAQ dropped 1.3 percent. Remarkably, the Dow experienced four straight days of triple-digit swings.

The next Federal Open Market Committee Meeting is on June 18 and 19. While few people expect the Fed to announce it will reduce the pace of bond buying immediately, the majority of economists surveyed by USA TODAY predict the Federal Reserve will begin to reduce bond purchases by early fall.

Data as of 06/14/13 1-Week YTD 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)

-1.0%

14.1%

22.4%

14.3%

3.7%

4.9%

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.1

N/A

1.6

3.3

4.2

3.2

Gold (per ounce)

0.4

-17.9

-13.8

4.4

9.4

14.5

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

-0.7

-6.3

1.2

0.8

-10.6

1.1

DJ Equity All REIT TR Index

-0.8

7.0

16.1

15.6

5.8

11.0

Notes: S&P 500, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

ARE EMERGING COUNTRIES LEADING THE WAY IN RENEWABLE ENERGY?

It seems that way sometimes. According to UNEP’s report, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2013, “Renewables are picking up speed across Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, with new investment in all technologies… Markets, manufacturing, and investment shifted increasingly towards developing countries during 2012.” For instance, after running even with the United States during 2011, China became the dominant country for renewable energy investment in 2012, according to the report.

This doesn’t mean the United States isn’t in the race. According to The Economist, an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance found the U.S. and China traded about $6.5 billion in solar, wind, and smart-grid technology and services during 2011. America sold about $1.5 billion more to China than it imported. The Economist concluded, “American ingenuity is required to supply Chinese factories with such things as polysilicon and wafers for photovoltaic cells, and the fiberglass and control systems used in wind turbines.”

So, what does the future hold? Kiplinger’s Letters said solar power production will double in 2013 and move ahead of geothermal power as a source of clean energy. They believe wind energy will soon rival hydroelectric power, as well. The United States added more wind power capacity last year than any other type of power generation. Currently, wind comprises about 5 percent of power generated in the United States.

Global investment in renewable energy may have fallen during 2012, but that doesn’t mean the industry has lost momentum. Renewable energy is gaining share in a growing number of countries and regions, including the European Union where renewable energy – primarily solar and wind power – accounted for about 21 percent of electricity consumption in 2011, and almost 70 percent of new electric capacity in 2012.

Renewables just may prove to be the tortoise in the energy race.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves. ”

–William Shakespeare, English poet and playwright