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Wednesday, December 14, 2011 Three-fourths of CEOs running small and mid-size businesses reported in March 2011 that they were anticipating higher revenues in the year ahead, and nearly 60% expected rising profits. Among those who expressed confidence in their futures, 54% expected to hire more employees and 50% were planning to invest in their facilities.

Growth is often accompanied by change. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration has found that increased employment and faster growth are factors that often lead businesses to change their legal form of organization. On October 12, in a demonstration of bipartisan cooperation, Congress passed three separate trade agreements — with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. They are the first trade agreements in four years. In terms of potential impact, the trade pact with South Korea is the most significant since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada in 1994.
In the first half of 2011, spikes in food and gasoline prices strained the budgets of many Americans and sparked fears of more persistent inflation.

Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve expected such price spikes to be temporary and forecasted the overall inflation rate to stay in the neighborhood of 2.5% in 2011, with the core consumer price index (which strips out food and energy) to grow in the range of 1.5% to 1.8%.1
Retirement savers are generally wise to take full advantage of the tax benefits that apply to employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs. However, because these tax-deferred plans are subject to strict annual contribution limits, many higher-income individuals may not be able to set aside enough money in them to pursue a comfortable retirement lifestyle.

Because a variable annuity is not subject to federal contribution limits, it enables investors to invest more after-tax dollars to supplement the income they could receive from other plans. Taxes on earnings are deferred until withdrawn.