Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Federal Reserve - Banker to the World

Americans may think the U.S. is in hock to China, but Beijing’s economic fate lies in Washington’s hands.

from the Wall Street Journal
When Donald Trump recently declared that “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” he was expressing the kind of sentiment that animates not only his new Republican coalition, but nationalists everywhere. From the leaders of Russia and China to the rising European parties hostile to an open Europe, these nationalists are linked by a belief that in all matters of policy, their nation should come first.

This world-wide turning inward, however, comes in a period when countries are more beholden than ever to one institution, the U.S. Federal Reserve. Every hint of a shift in Washington’s monetary policy is met with a sharp response by global markets, which in turn affect the U.S. economy more dramatically than ever.

The Fed has been forced to recognize that it can no longer focus on America alone. When the Federal Open Market Committee voted in January 2015 to hold interest rates steady, its official statement explicitly noted, for the first time, that it was factoring “international developments” into its decisions. Since then the Fed, including this week, has frequently cited international threats, from Brexit to China, as reason to continue with hyper-accommodative monetary policy.

Though Mr. Trump argues that America must tend to its own affairs because it is weak, the Fed’s evolving role shows the limits of this argument. The U.S. may have slipped as an economic superpower, falling to 23% of global GDP from 40% in 1960. But as a financial superpower Washington has never been more influential. Forecasts of the dollar’s downfall have completely missed the mark.

Since the 15th century the world has had six unofficial reserve currencies, starting with the Portuguese real. On average they have maintained their leading position for 94 years. The dollar succeeded the British pound 96 years ago, and it has no serious rival in sight.

In the past 15 years, total foreign currency reserves world-wide rose from under $3 trillion to $11 trillion. Nearly two thirds of those reserves are held in dollars, a share that has barely changed in decades. Nearly 90% of global trade transactions involve dollars, even in deals without an American party. A Korean company selling TVs in Brazil, for instance, will generally ask for payment in dollars.

Because the Fed controls the supply of dollars, it reigns supreme. Its influence has only grown since the financial crisis of 2008. As the Fed began experimenting with quantitative easing to inject dollars into the system, tens of billions flowed out of the country every month. The amount of dollar loans extended to borrowers outside the U.S. has doubled since 2009 to $9 trillion—a record 75% of global nonresidential lending. Many of those are in the form of bonds, and bond investors are highly sensitive to U.S. interest rates.

That helps explain why any sign of Fed tightening, which reduces the supply of dollars, sends global markets into a tizzy. Earlier this year, for example, Chinese investors were shipping billions abroad every month, searching for higher yields. The Fed had been expected to raise short-term interest rates later this year, but it backed off that commitment in February, when China appeared headed toward a financial crisis.

Had the Fed tightened, China’s central bank would have been pressured to follow, crippling the flow of credit that is keeping the Chinese economy afloat. So instead the Fed held steady, effectively bailing out Beijing.
Though many Americans still see the U.S. as deeply in hock to China, the fact is that China is even more reliant on easy money to fuel growth—putting the country’s economic fate in Washington’s hands.

The Fed is thus caught in a trap. Every time the U.S. economy starts to perk up, the Fed signals its intent to start returning interest rates to normal. But that signal sends shock waves through a heavily indebted global economy and back to American shores. So the Fed delays rate increases, as it did in June and again this week.

The rest of the world recognizes the Fed’s power as well. As soon as quantitative easing began, finance ministers from Brazil to Taiwan warned about the risks of unleashing torrents of dollars. They said it would drive up the value of currencies in the emerging world, destabilize local financial markets, undermine exports and economic growth.

The Fed was initially skeptical. Its then-chief Ben Bernanke argued that the central bank’s policies were a boost for every country. Other officials stated bluntly that the rest of the world wasn’t their problem. “We only have a mandate to concern ourselves with the interest of the United States,” Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Fed, said in 2013. “Other countries simply have to take that as a reality and adjust to us if that’s something important for their economies.”

The Fed has since discovered the world, which matters more than ever to the American economy. In the past 15 years the share of U.S. corporate revenues that come from foreign markets has risen from a quarter to a third.
The more interconnected global markets become, the more rapidly financial instability in the rest of the world ricochets to hurt the U.S.

In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, the Fed’s loose policies may have temporarily stimulated growth world-wide. But those policies have come back to haunt it. Fed officials ignored the resulting excesses, including the credit and asset bubbles building around the world. Now every time the Fed tries to tighten, the dollar starts to strengthen and global markets seize up, forcing the Fed to retreat. It’s unclear how to end this cycle, but this much is apparent: The financial hegemony of the U.S. has never been greater, making the Fed the central bank of the world.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Clinton Cash

Just one day after the global premiere of Clinton Cash, Hans Westberg, the embattled CEO and president of telecoms company Ericsson, stepped down as the head of the Swedish wireless equipment maker.

Farm Fair Time Harford County!

July 28-31, 2016

More info, here!

Snubbing the RNC Convention Doesn't Seem to be Paying Off for Establishment Republican Candidates...

from the Baltimore Sun
Both major party candidates running for Maryland's open Senate seat reported raising less money to the Federal Election Commission in their most recent disclosure report than they informally suggested, a discrepancy that appears to have been caused by a quirk in the reporting schedule.

Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen raised $1.5 million from April 7 to the end of June, about 18 percent less than the $1.8 million his campaign touted in a press release. Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga reported raising $463,000, about 20 percent under the $582,170 the campaign initially distributed.

Generally when a campaign previews its fundraising numbers with the media ahead of a filing the expectation is that the previewed number will closely match the figure put on file with the FEC. The differences this time were caused by how the election calendar in Maryland lined up with the FEC's schedule.

Normally the elections agency would have required candidates to file a first-quarter report on April 15 that covers fundraising from Jan. 1 to March 31. But because 2016 is an election year, candidates are also required to file a pre-primary election report. Maryland's primary was April 26, meaning the the two reports -- first quarter and pre-primary -- would have come exceedingly close to one another.

Instead, the FEC allowed candidates in Maryland to waive the first quarter report and simply report all their fundraising and expenses in the pre-primary report, which covered Jan. 1 through April 6 -- or one week beyond the close of the first quarter.

That set up a situation where the "second quarter," at least for FEC purposes, began on April 7 rather than April 1.

So, when the Van Hollen and Szeliga campaigns previewed their numbers to the media -- and discussed their fundraising in the "second quarter" -- they included fundraising going back to April 1. Both campaigns used some iteration of the words "second quarter" in their material to reporters.

The FEC report, however, starts the clock on April 7, meaning it wraps in one week less of fundraisers, phone calls, internet donations and unsolicited checks -- thus the smaller numbers.

The cash-on-hand numbers released early by both campaigns matched their reports: $567,000 for Van Hollen and $255,000 for Szeliga.
I wonder why? It seems to have paid off for Van Hollen, who spoke at the 2012 DNC Convention. And Szeliga positively effuzed over Romney at the 2012 RNC Convention...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Anti-Trump Maryland Delegation Fails

from the Baltimore Sun
Two Maryland delegates to the Republican National Convention have signed a letter opposing the convention rules that will be considered on the floor today -- arguing that party leadership missed an opportunity to give more authority to grassroots activists.

Nicolee Ambrose and Jim Crawford,
the two delegates from Maryland who served on the convention rules committee, had supported rules changes that would have given more power to convention delegates, stripping it from the RNC chairman and other party leaders.

Ambrose and Crawford are the Maryland representatives on the 112-member rules committee that is made up of delegates from each state.

"After a highly competitive primary season, the RNC leadership had the opportunity to unify grassroots activists and prove we are the party of fairness, transparency, and rule of law," the two wrote in a letter to fellow convention delegates.

"Instead, we were force fed a rules package we simply cannot support. We encourage our fellow convention delegates to vote against the majority rules report."

The issues raised in the letter are separate from the higher-profile fight that has taken place over allowing delegates to "vote their conscience" and oppose Donald Trump -- even if their state's voters supported him. Still, the concerns raised in the letter nevertheless underscore the tension that exists within the party as it prepares to formally nominate Trump.

The rules package approved last week by the rules committee is expected to win approval on the floor today despite the objections.

In the letter -- which is also signed by Kendal Unruh of Colorado and 11 others -- Ambrose and Crawford object to the "centralization of authority solely in the chairman's office," provisions that make it harder for party members to contact rules committee members and "denying RNC members the needed opportunity to review rules changes before they go to an immediate vote."

Unruh has been a leader in the effort to "unbind" delegates, allowing them to vote for someone other than Trump.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Harford Real Estate Interests Version of Pokemon Go...

From the Dagger and Harford County Association of REALTORS:
Harford County REALTORS along with the Havre de Grace historical Society and Department of Public Works, Harford County Councilman Curtis Beulah and Havre de Grace Councilwoman Monica Worrell, painted markers throughout the city to note the Lafayette Trail for tourist. The needed project has been on hold for several years. It took two days to get most of it completed and the finishing touches will be completed in July.

Harford County REALTORS with Keller Williams American Premier hosted their “RED DAY” charity fundraiser with over 60 agents participating. They helped rehab many of the Harford Family House’s properties in the Aberdeen Area.

Harford County REALTORS with Advance Realty collected food and raised over $300 that was donated to the Maryland Food Bank. They also raised over $3,000.00 that was donated to renovate a church in Havre de Grace.

Harford County REALTORS with Street Hopkins Real Estate raised funds and paraded through Bel Air with their Red Noses on “Red Nose Day’ to benefit children throughout the world.
Shouldn't they have simply bought a Pokemon Gym location?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Kathy Funds Up

from the Baltimore Sun
Del. Kathy Szeliga, the Republican nominee for Maryland's open Senate seat, raised nearly $600,000 in the second quarter of this year -- significantly more than previous GOP statewide candidates here -- her campaign said Wednesday.

Szeliga, a Baltimore County Republican, raised just more than $582,000 from April through the end of June, the campaign said. The figure is more than double the amount raised by Republican Dan Bongino during the same period of his campaign against Sen. Ben Cardin in 2012, and it is slightly more than Gov. Larry Hogan raised from donors in 2014.

Szeliga is running against Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen for the seat that will be left open next year by the retirement of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

"We are thrilled with the amount of support Kathy has received in this race so far from all across the state of Maryland," Szeliga spokeswoman Leslie Shedd said in a statement. "Clearly these numbers show that Kathy Szeliga is on the exact same path to defy expectations that Larry Hogan was on two years ago."

Szeliga will report having just more than $254,000 on hand, a less strong number. Van Hollen, already a heavy favorite in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than two-to-one, had several million dollars in the bank heading into the April primary. Even though he probably burned through much of that cash in the final weeks of the race, he remains a prodigious fundraiser.

Republicans, including Szeliga, have pointed to Hogan's upset win in 2014 as a model for how the party can win statewide elections here. But while Szeliga is running an aggressive campaign and has the support of the popular governor she also faces strong headwinds: The presidential election is expected to drive more Democrats to the polls in Maryland than turned out two years ago.

Szeliga will report donations from dozens of high profile Republicans, including Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa. The Szeliga campaign said that more than 80 percent of its fundraising came from Marylanders.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


more... up from 14% - 78%.

Convention-all Wisdom

from the Baltimore Sun
Maryland is a state where centrists have long dominated Republican politics, but it will be represented by some of the most die-hard Donald Trump supporters in the nation when the Republican Party meets this month to formally choose a presidential nominee.

The unusual system used by state Republicans to select their 38 presidential delegates to the party's national convention has essentially locked out Trump naysayers, several observers said. That makes Maryland's delegation more resistant to the barrage of proposed rule changes intended to undermine the presumptive nominee on the convention floor in Cleveland.

"We're all hard-core Trump people; we're solid," said Jim Crawford, a Trump delegate from Charles County and one of two Republicans from Maryland who will serve on the convention rules committee, which meets next week. "I was elected by people who pulled the lever with my name only because Trump's name was beside it."

The depth of commitment to Trump espoused by many Maryland delegates stands in contrast to the views expressed by the state's GOP leaders, including Gov. Larry Hogan, who said last month that he will not vote for him.

The loyalty means Maryland's delegates are unlikely to support rule changes proposed by some conservative groups to, for instance, allow delegates to vote their conscience rather than being bound to support the candidate who won their state's primary election.

Trump received 54 percent of Maryland's GOP vote in the April 26 primary. The second-place finisher, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich, got 23 percent. Under current rules, Maryland delegates are bound to support Trump on the first two rounds of balloting.

Crawford's explanation for his commitment to Trump underscores the importance of obscure party rules that have tangible consequences. Maryland is one of nine states in which voters directly elect GOP delegates to the convention: Delegates appear on the primary ballot with the presidential candidate's name adjacent to their own.

And Maryland is among an even smaller share of those states in which the winner of the primary receives all of the state's delegates.

Josh Putnam, a professor of government at the University of Georgia and an expert on the presidential primary process, said Rhode Island is the only other state that selects delegates in the same way. The system, Putnam said, has the potential to produce a delegation of loyalists.

"These [delegates] are more likely to be aligned with the Trump campaign, and even if they were freed they would be more likely to support Trump than go in a different direction," he said.

The vast majority of states select delegates at state GOP conventions, meaning that party leaders have far more control over who goes to the national convention.

Throughout much of the primary season, establishment Republicans wary of Trump hoped the bombastic New York real estate mogul would not garner the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination — a situation that could have forced a contested convention.

But Trump cleared that threshold in late May, forcing the "never Trump" organizers to fall back.

Their latest effort, supported by groups with names such as Free the Delegates and Courageous Conservatives, involves a proposed convention rule change that would allow delegates to support whomever they want.

The groups, which did not respond to a request for comment, need 57 votes on the 112-member rules committee to force the change.

Even supporters have acknowledged that that will be a significant challenge.

Louis Pope is not only an at-large delegate to the convention and the state's current national committeeman, he is a 12-year veteran of the RNC standing rules committee and its current vice chairman. His 56-member committee proposes rules for the Republican Party, including for the convention.

Those proposals ― essentially recommendations ― are then considered by the larger, 112-member panel.

The Howard County man said the vast majority of Republicans are unlikely to embrace the kinds of rule changes that anti-Trump forces are contemplating. His committee recommended making no changes to the rules when it met earlier this year.

"We felt, since the primary started, we shouldn't change the rules," Pope said. "You can't change the rules once the game starts."

Pope said there could be passionate debate about the issue in the larger convention rules committee when it meets next week, but predicted that most delegates would conclude that Trump won the nomination fair and square.

"While some want to make a big deal about changes, I don't see it happening," he said.

Republicans will hold their convention July 18-21. Democrats, who are meeting in Philadelphia the following week, have their own wounds to heal, given the unexpectedly protracted primary fight between presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

But Clinton is not expected to face the kind of animosity from within her party that Trump has generated in some quarters of his.

Nicolee Ambrose, the other Maryland delegate who will serve on the convention rules committee, said she wants to study the details of the "conscience rule" proposal before making a final decision, but said the candidate who wins the required number of delegates should win the nomination.

"I strongly believe that we are bound to the concept of rule of law," said Ambrose, the state's RNC national committeewoman. "I have a strong and healthy respect for anyone who can compete with 17 people and get through the process and win the required number of delegates."
Traitors in their midst?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

When Cowardly Baltimore Politicians Blame Police...

from Yahoo News
(Reuters) - Already beset by a public outcry over the high-profile death of a black man in police custody and a rising murder rate, Baltimore's police department is facing another headache: it's shrinking fast.

The number of uniformed officers in the mid-Atlantic city fell 6.1 percent last year and has shrunk by even more in the first half of this year, according to police data seen by Reuters and not previously reported.

The fall in 2015 was the biggest decline in police numbers among nine comparably-sized U.S. cities reviewed by Reuters. The police force in Detroit and El Paso shrank by 4.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, while Denver and Las Vegas saw increases of over 5 percent. (Graphic:

The reasons for the fall are unclear, but it comes at a difficult time when the number of murders and other violent crimes have risen sharply in Baltimore and many other U.S. cities.

Shrinking budgets have pressured police recruitment in many U.S. cities, including Baltimore, where police officials say they also face steep competition from neighboring Washington to recruit and retain cops. Baltimore's most recent budget slashed municipal government, reflecting a declining tax base, the city's tepid economy and high unemployment.

While there are no U.S. national statistics on the number of people applying for police jobs, some officers, union officials and criminal justice experts say hiring in Baltimore and elsewhere has also been hurt by high-profile killings by police.

The death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray in police custody in April 2015, as well as those of other black men at the hands of police in cities including New York, Cleveland, and Ferguson, Missouri, has brought increased scrutiny to cops nationwide.

"They're having trouble recruiting because since Ferguson there has been a lot of negative press about policing," said John DeCarlo, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven and former chief of the Branford, Connecticut, police department.

The sharp decline in police numbers in Baltimore comes after Gray's death set off violent protests that put the city at the heart of a national debate over race and police use of force.

Six of the officers involved in Gray's arrest were criminally charged, and two have so far been acquitted.


Baltimore, a city of 622,000 people, has long been blighted by deep-seated poverty and drug crime in some neighborhoods. The city saw a 63 percent surge in homicides last year, with 344 people slain, though the number of killings has declined modestly this year, by 5 percent through July 2.

The city ended 2015 with 2,634 sworn officers on its police force, down from 2,805 a year earlier, according to Police Department data. From January to June 9, the force shrank by a further 6.8 percent to 2,445 officers, according to city records.

"We're operating short-handed," said Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police union, who called the climate since Gray's death a "morale killer."

Both union and police officials say officers have defected to other departments in the area since the riots that followed Gray’s death.

Ryan added that due to staffing shortages police brass are ordering a lot of "supplemental patrols," in which more specialized officers are assigned to respond to emergency calls.

The city's most recent budget cuts the size of the police force by 8 percent to 2,629, still more officers than it now has on the payroll.

Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said members of his organization report declines in the number of applicants. He said declines in pay and pensions and the anger that followed incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson have turned off potential applicants.

Criminologists say it is not clear if police shortages have contributed to a rise in many types of violent crime in the United States since 2015.

But they do see knock-on effects from fewer police on the beat such as a rise in overtime and potentially overworked police who may be more prone to making mistakes. It also forces some departments to respond more slowly or not at all to some lower priority crimes, police officials and criminal justice experts say.

Baltimore Police spokesman Lieutenant Jarrod Jackson said the department is using a variety of strategies to make up for staffing shortages, including assigning specialized officers to handle more routine duties.

“There will be parts of the year where some of our veteran officers and detectives will supplement patrol,” Jackson said.

On Baltimore's streets, residents said they are aware of the difficulties police have had in recruiting, though many said that reflects a population that has become accustomed to unfair treatment.

"Right now, in my mind, it just seems like they want more snitches," said Brittani Harris, who has lived in the city for all of her 24 years. "You have people who are afraid of police but also police who are afraid of people. Especially in Baltimore."

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Urban Street Jam

A Harford County Fourth

from the Baltimore Sun
Harford County residents and visitors will have two days to celebrate our nation's 240th birthday over the Independence Day holiday weekend that for many begins Friday.

Traditional parades are planned Sunday in Joppatowne and Havre de Grace, the latter followed by fireworks, and Monday in Kingsville and Bel Air, with Bel Air's parade followed by fireworks.

Bel Air's Independence Day Committee also has a number of community events on tap for Monday morning, some new this year to replace old favorites that have gone away. All in all, it's going to be a festive occasion.

The weather should cooperate for most of the weekend; however, there is a chance for thundershowers on Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service forecast as of Thursday afternoon.

Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high of 81 degrees, Sunday mostly sunny with a high of 82 and Monday partly sunny with a high of 82 and a 30 percent chance of precipitation.

"Honoring Our Home Town Heroes" is the theme for Bel Air's celebration, which begins at 6:45 a.m. Monday with the flag-raising at Bel Air High School, following by the pancake and sausage breakfast in the school cafeteria.

The celebration honors police, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel and members of the military. It also remembers the two Harford County Sheriff's Office deputies shot to death in the line of duty earlier this year, Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey and Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon.

Carriane Cicero, of Street, is Miss Bel Air Independence Day 2016 and will appear at many of the day's events and will ride in the parade.

This year's Independence Day program cover was designed by 11-year-old Katherine Parker, of Bel Air, who just completed fifth grade at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary. Hers was picked from among hundreds of entries submitted by local students. Olivia Rissling, 11, also of Homestead-Wakefield Elementary, was first runner-up.

This year, the pancake breakfast, which goes from 7 to 11 a.m., is being run by the Bel Air High School Boosters, which replaces the Bel Air Lions Club, the event's longtime sponsor and operator. The breakfast is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 10.

Other changes in Bel Air morning events are the elimination of the frog jumping contest and turtle derby. Traditionally held at Shamrock Park, they will be replaced by a water balloon toss contest starting at 9 a.m. in the park and a patriotic costume contest starting at 10 a.m.

Returning events include horseshoe pitching at 8:30 a.m. at Rockfield Park; patriotic music and tours at Hays House starting at 9 a.m.; face painting from 9 a.m. to noon at Shamrock Park; Uncle Sam Says at 11 a.m. at Shamrock and a watermelon-eating contest at 11:30 a.m at Shamrock.

The popular annual bicycle rodeo is at 11 a.m. at the Bel Air Elementary School parking lot.

Bel Air's parade along Main Street begins at 6 p.m. and is sponsored by BGE. Like last year, the parade will march north from South Main and Idlewild street to the "flatiron" at North Main and Gordon streets.

Bel Air's fireworks will start at approximately 9:30 at Rockfield Park, sponsored by Harford Mutual Insurance Company. Rain date for the fireworks is Tuesday, July 5, at 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit

Other area celebrations include:

The Edgewood/Joppatowne Independence Day Parade will take place in Joppatowne this year, set to march down Joppa Farm Road starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 3. The parade will run from Shore Drive to Hinton Road and will be followed by a free concert at Mariner Point Park at 8 p.m. For more information, visit

Havre de Grace Independence Day festivities will be on Sunday, July 3, with the parade down Union Avenue starting at 2 p.m. After the parade, Jeff Thompson will provide music in the Yacht Basin at Tydings Park starting at 7:30 p.m., followed by a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. The annual carnival opened Wednesday and runs 6 to 10 p.m. through Saturday and 3 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit

The Greater Kingsville Civic Association and the Kingsville Volunteer Fire Company are sponsoring the 36th annual Kingsville Independence Day Parade, which will start at 10:50 a.m. from the fire company on Bellvue Avenue and proceed down Bradshaw Road to finish at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Before the parade, an hour of entertainment will begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of Bradshaw and Jerusalem roads. For more information visit