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In Search of Growth

We’ve talked quite a bit in Investor Briefabout investors trying to identify where the growth is and how, in many cases, the most explosive growth is outside the United States.

It’s not just investors who are studying this question. President Obama, as part of his effort to create jobs, has set the goal of doubling the amount of U.S. exports over the next five years.

If this goal is to be met, one of the people who will be most responsible will be Fred Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The bank helps businesses export to foreign markets.

I recently interviewed Fred and thought he had a lot of interesting and important points to offer. For instance:

• The bank has identified nearly 10 countries with strong economic growth that appear to be prime candidates as export markets. Among those countries are Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, India, Indonesia and Vietnam — many of which we’ve also talked about in connection with strong growth.

• About 10.5% of the U.S. economy is exports. Compare that with Germany’s, which is about 47% exports. That is because Germany was forced to go outside its borders to compensate for weak internal demand, unlike here in the U.S. As Fred told me, “They didn’t have that luxury. We don’t have that luxury anymore.”

• Among the sectors in which the U.S. has the strongest export power are renewable “green tech/renewable energy, aircraft, power, construction, farm and agriculture equipment, and medical. Those are the five areas we’re focusing on at the Ex-Im bank, to help companies in those industries that have a competitive advantage to really make a difference in the world.”

I think these export initiatives are worth watching. At a macro level, they provide further information as to where the growth is around the world, and they could also result in some interesting investment ideas.

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