Look for a pronounced slowdown in economic growth in 1998. That's the prediction presented by Reed Elsevier Business Economics (formerly Cahners Economics) in its "Economics Outlook for 1998." The report sees GDP rising by an inflation-adjusted 2.3% in 1998 from the heady 3.7% 1997 level. Moreover, interest rates should be somewhat higher this year, as the Federal Reserve Board "pursues a marginally tighter monetary policy." Three major trends bear watching during 1998, the report warns. All will have some moderating influence on the U.S. economy's growth potential: a pronounced slowdown in the growth rate of business investment spending; high levels of consumer debt, particularly installment debt; and an uptick in inflation brought about by increased average wage demands resulting from historically low levels of unemployment. On the industrial front, Reed Elsevier expects only moderate growth in 1998. Output gains will increase 3.4%, with capacity utilization declining modestly to 82.7% (from 1997's average of about 83%). U.S.-based international trade should continue to make an important contribution to the overall growth in GDP, say the Reed Elsevier economists, expanding by a solid 8.3% this year. To obtain a copy of the report, phone (800) 662-7776.
The US Congress has extended an important tax credit for solar energy, a move that’s good news for future investments in this type of alternative energy and for many stakeholders in the solar industry.
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