Global economy slows
In this past quarter volatility increased in markets throughout the globe. The Chinese economy, second largest in the world, saw its growth slow even as its equity market doubled. Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. also slowed. Even the U.S. economy, long the strongest in the world has slowed, having been battered by ferocious winter storms and a West Coast port strike. The response in the ex U.S. countries has been to cheapen their currency in an effort to grow exports and grow their economies. Interest rates have been slashed. Europe has embarked on its own version of Quantitative Easing to promote its economies. This strategy has yet to work. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve has played with raising interest rates in the U.S., but so far has not had the courage to do so. Talk of raising rates has had the effect of increasing anticipation that interest rates will rise, and the U.S. Dollar has strengthened. Although equities in many countries have increased, the increase relative to U.S. investments has been diminished by the stronger dollar. The dollar has increased 18% against a basket of currencies in the past year and up 30% year on year to the Euro.

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