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Yet, behind the dire headlines and marketplace frictions, a handful of macro trends are at work* Cumulatively, these macro trends will add up to $27 trillion in global GDP growth, which will swell to $90 trillion by 2020, 40% larger than today* The macro trends' growth potential will touch many corners of the globe, and include the following: * Rising wealth in emerging economies * Renewed economic vitality in advanced economies * Economic, military and political power tilts toward Asia * Growing demand among more nations for oil and natural gas, grains, fresh water and extracted ores * The population shift from farm to factory * Aging populations in the advanced economies, better medical treatments and changes in payment systems to make healthcare spending more efficient will spur innovation * Innovation will increasingly come in new, "soft" forms such as nanotechnology, genomics, artificial intelligence, robotics and ubiquitous connectivity JOEL KOTKIN NewGeographvxom The United States is essentially made up of many economies, each with distinctly different short- and long-term prospects* Here are the five regions that are most poised to flourish and help boost the national economy in 2012 and beyond: 1 The Energy Belt (Texas, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, Montana, Louisiana, Wyoming, Ohio) 2 The Agricultural Heartland (Iowa, Nebraska) 3 The New Foundry (the revival of Great Lakes manufacturing) 4 The Technosphere (Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Raleigh, Columbus) 5 The Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon) SCOTT GRANNIS Calafia Beach Pundit I do see some light at the end of this gloomy tunnel, and I expect it will brighten over the course of the year as the presidential elections focus the country's attention on what has caused our economic funk and how best to get out of it.

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