The Fiscal Cliff

by Marylove Moy 28. December 2012

Fiscal Cliff

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard the term "fiscal cliff" in the past six weeks - my Christmas bills would be paid off in full.

Evidently 25% of the voting population understands the term. In short, the FC refers to expiration of the Bush (W) tax cuts on December 31 in addition to "sequestration" which means radical cuts across the board in government spending.

So...what does that mean to you and me? Well, as a few examples, workers will see an immediate 2 ½% cut in their pay due to the lapsing of the payroll tax cuts. Annually, many middle income families will see their annual income taxes rise by roughly $2500. Many individuals on unemployment will lose their benefits. Many governmental programs that aide the middle class will be slashed: student loan grants, physician payments from Medicare could drop by up to 30%, governmental agencies budgets will be cut by approximately 7%. These are just to name a few.

Most people think the market will take a massive hit.

The biggest issue is that our economy—which is starting to strengthen – will most likely slip back in to recession. When businesses see uncertainty of this size they don’t hire, they don’t make capital purchases or expand. Individuals cut back on discretionary spending. Markets falter.

It ain't over 'til it's over; our friends in Washington have three days to prevent this fiasco. My guess? They will pass something in the 11th hour. Stay tuned.

Marylove Moy is Program Director of 1st Mariner Financial Services. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of 1st Mariner Bank.

Local Baltimore Wine Experts Suggest Their Top Picks for Affordable Wines to Celebrate the Holiday Season

by Erica Starr 24. December 2012

Holiday Wines

There is no doubt about it - When it comes to the holidays, there is bound to be food, family, friends, cookies, and a bottle or two of good wine.

Even if you and your family aren’t planning on partaking in the consumption of said bottles of wine, a good bottle wine is always perfect for a last minute gift or even just an easy grab-and-go contribution to your neighbor’s holiday party.

That being said, we went around to some of Baltimore’s well-known wine and spirits experts to get their recommendations on a few affordable wines that will wow people without putting too much of a dent in your wallet.

In general, according to Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, the $7-$11 red wine is popular around this time of year for office parties, Secret Santa gifts, and hosting. Red wines are generally the go-to as they go well with the colder temperatures. But that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on what is considered “the norm.”

Chateau la Bastide
Blanc 2011 - Corbieres, France - $13.00

Although red wines are more popular during the winter, Mitchell Pressman, owner of Chesapeake Wine Company located in Canton, says that a wine that goes with variety of foods is key when it comes to holiday wines. “A blend of 50% Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Vermentino, this ripe, juicy-dry (think fresh peach), mouthwatering, refreshing white can stand up to a wide variety of holiday foods.”

Cloud Break Chardonnay
California Barrel Fermented - $7.99

“If you are looking for a white, chardonnay is king,” says Coburn. The Cloud Break Chardonnay is rich with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, butter, apple, pear and hints of coconut. 100% malolactic fermentation is used to give it nice body and texture. Refined acidity and hints of green apple linger on the elegant finish.

La Bastide
Syrah '10 Vieille Vignes "Les Genets" - Vin de Pays d'Hauterive, France - $12.00

Benotto
Nebbiolo '09 "Nebiul" - Monferrato, Italy - $17.00

When it comes to red wine, Pressman suggests two wines that both fall below the $20 a bottle range. “this is full of fragrant berry (La Bastide), spicy smells and flavors. Fruit from old vines planted in the right place usually brings more character and complexity to the wine. “

In regards to the Benotto, Pressman explains that “Nebbiolo is the most illustrious grape of the region (Piedmont) - it is the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy's most famous and expensive wines.”

How is this version so affordable you ask? Pressman says this version “comes from a small plot of 90 year old vines planted near the town of Asti - a village not so well known for its Nebbiolo - which helps to explain how a wine so full of dark cherry/orange peel/mineral/meaty smells and flavors could be so inexpensive.” Another remarkable value for only $17.

KAMIAK
Bordeaux Blend ’07 – Gordon Brothers - Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah blend – USA - $10.99

As reds, whites and blush wines are the more popular way to go in regards to your favorite vino, Coburn hints that blended reds are fast growing in popularity and are generally more affordable.

This cabernet, merlot, syrah and malbec blend has big, dark, toasty tannins and plenty of ripe fruit. Meaty and rich, it shows plenty of power, along with some earthier notes.

Adami
Prosecco "Garbel" - Treviso, Italy - $17
When it comes to a more wallet-friendly way to ring in the new year, Pressman suggests a Prosecco straight from none other than the grape vines of Italy.

“Prosecco (the name of the grape) is - or should be - full of fruit, frothy and fresh - just like this one from the Adami family, one of the best producers. It makes for a great ice-breaker to start off festivities, but also works great with much of the food on a holiday table.”

In addition to the recommendations from our local experts (Mitchell Pressman of Chesapeake Wine Company, and Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits) check out the suggestions from wine sommelier Gary Vaynerchuk’s 12 Wines of Christmas.

 

How to Successfully Navigate the Networking World

by Jason Dieter 20. December 2012

Throughout the year, I find myself sitting with business owners and sales folks, forming relationships, making introductions, giving and receiving qualified and unqualified referrals and sharing new ideas. All of these activities are typical of your run of the mill business networking groups that we find ourselves in around our local market areas. Having said that, let’s address one activity I mentioned above; the giving and receiving of referrals. Assuming you sit in on a networking group, have you ever really thought about why a fellow member would refer you or your business to a friend? Or why you would refer your colleague to someone in your network? I have narrowed it down to two things:

1) How often do you "give" refferals to others?

2) What level of trust do your colleagues have in you, and you in them?

Let's first start by addressing the word “give” in the context it’s used in business networking groups. Think about it - if each of us networked to “get” something, then more than likely, none of us would “get” anything. Therefore, it makes sense to approach your networking group and meetings with the idea of “giving” as many referrals as possible, increasing the likelihood that you will be “given” referrals in kind. When you show you care about others enough to help them grow their business, you will find that others consider the same holds true for you. Albert Einstein once said, “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”

So, now that we’ve covered giving and receiving referrals, let’s discuss the word “trust” and how it applies to the world of networking. As in our own personal relationships, trust in the workplace is the main building block for creating ongoing and long-lasting relationships. Trust is built over time and is almost always earned - not given. Trust is built simply through acceptance, integrity and reliability. It’s with this behavior that people will trust you, and therefore, refer you to others. Other qualities require that you be genuinely interested in others, listen properly, and follow up accordingly. In the end, building trust is ESSENTIAL for growing and maintaining a strong business network.

In closing, as you continue to build your relationships and your network, remind yourself that “what goes around comes around.” In order to get, you MUST give. Also, your reputation is everything. It’s always much easier for people to lose trust in you than it is to earn it. Happy networking!

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