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Vining Sparks Chief Economist Speaks at MSB Annual Meeting

MONSON — Craig Dismuke, senior vice president and chief economist for Vining Sparks IBG, was the guest speaker at Monson Savings Bank’s recent annual meeting.

Dismuke, who is responsible for the projection and publication of Vining Sparks’ economic and interest-rate forecasts and is a frequent guest on CNBC, Fox Business, and Bloomberg TV, told the group that there is good news for the economy in the short term, but several factors present challenges to strong growth in the longer term.

Among the positive short-term markers, the deleveraging process appears to be complete, in that household debt as a percentage of net worth and real-estate assets has leveled off, ending the deleveraging process for the consumer, Dismuke noted. Secondly, the economy, having added more than 1 million payrolls in the last three months, is showing the best pace of job growth since 1997. And while wages have not yet increased, strong corporate profits and historical patterns suggest that some level of wage growth is on the way.

This good news for the short term was tempered, however, by Dismuke’s discussion of longer-term challenges to continued strong growth in GDP. These include an aging population, which means both fewer workers and lower consumer spending; mounting federal debt, with a growing gap between government spending and tax receipts; a housing market that is still somewhat shaky because its recovery has been fueled more by invest-to-rent purchases than by traditional home ownership; and weak global growth.

“We were extremely pleased to host Craig at our annual meeting,” said Steve Lowell, president of Monson Savings Bank. “He is a wealth of trusted information, data, and research, and our trustees, corporators, and officers were very appreciative of his highly informed and objective insights.”

Also at the annual meeting, Lowell reported on the bank’s outstanding 2014 results, focusing on the themes of strength, stability, and community-mindedness. “I am proud to report that our bank is extremely healthy and strong,” he said, “with strong growth, increased capital, extremely low loan delinquencies, and exceptional profitability, with the fifth-highest return-on-assets ratio of all banks of $300 million or less in assets across the Commonwealth.”

Lowell also reported that the bank continued its practice of giving more than $100,000 back to the communities it serves, with more than $130,000 in charitable giving and also a significant investment in its Dollars & Sense financial-literacy program. “This is always what I’m most proud of,” he said.

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