With a new year, a new president and a bit of optimism on the horizon, socially responsible exchange traded funds (ETFs) may be the one of the busiest arenas in the ETF world.

Fund providers such as Veritas Funds and Pax World Funds plan to launch new funds which range from environmentalism to those with a religious emphasis, focused on Islam and Christianity.  Of the funds that already exist, PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (PBW) was down 68.9% in 2008, but has seen tremendous success in that it attracted about $630 million, indicating that a market exists.

The sector may flourish for the following reasons:

On the downside, with low crude oil prices and weak consumer confidence, the sector may still face an upward battle. Only time and the future of the overall economic health will determine the success of the sector in 2009. 

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.