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Impact of Geopolitical Upheavals; Anisfield Wolf at Happy Dog

On Tuesday, January 12th, we went to the Doubletree Hotel in Westlake for a joint chamber of commerce luncheon comprised of the North Coast, North Olmsted and West Shore chambers. We really wanted to attend this gathering because we hadn't been to an event put on by the North Coast Chamber for at least a couple of months. We felt very bad that we were unable to make it to the holiday program which, we were told, was attended by 300 people. Subsequently, Ms. Tammy Bertrand and Ms. Gylene Pelton told us that out of 97 RSVP's we were the first to reserve. The speaker was Dr. Jack Kleimhenz, Ph.D, an economist who told us that he served on the board of Notre Dame College with Ms. Margaret W. Wong. He devoted his presentation to forecasting economic conditions in 2016. He said that the factors/risks likely to impact growth are geopolitical upheavals and conflicts; federal rate hikes; oil prices; presidential election; wages; China; and recession risks (which he rated as low).

To summarize his forecast, Dr. Kleimhenz believed that the GDP will gradually accelerate and there will be economic broadening; while consumer spending has been erratic and varied, the trend has continually improved; the labor market should continue to improve; inflation should rise modestly but within the Fed zone; treasury yields are likely to rise slowly; but uncertainty remains and we are not sure about legislative outcomes in Washington, D.C.

During lunch, we sat with our friend, Mr. Joseph Benny who we worked with when we were part of the staff for U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich.

We talked with Mr. Dana Korosi from Riverstone Capital Consultants about current trends in immigration. Another person recalled the challenges faced by her partner when he first immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic some 20 years ago.

While we were talking with Mr. Eric Smoloff from Pure Water Technology, we discovered that a good friend of his is a science teacher at Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy in Cleveland.

Sitting near us at lunch was a certified public accountant from North Olmsted. When we told him that we worked for an immigration law firm, he recalled that a client of his once had an issue dealing with immigration but the client obtained good legal assistance and managed to work through it. He thought about it a moment and said that the law firm that his client went to just might have been Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

That night we drove to Lorain to go to a business after hours put on by the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce at Heidelberg Distributing on Baumhart Road. We were a bit surprised to see several people at this event who were also at the joint chamber luncheon that we attended earlier like Ms. Julie Bialowas from "Cleveland Magazine".

We had been told that Lorain County is home to 65 different ethnic groups including many Hispanic people and immigrants from Eastern Europe. Accordingly, Ms. Lee Ann Bors from 1380 AM radio mentioned to us that a lot of international programing is done on Sunday afternoons including some Hispanic vignettes and Polka.

We had a particularly delightful visit with Mr. Kurt Barkdull, a musician who has an associate in another country who might be in need of the services that our law firm provides and a young woman took our contact information because a relative of hers is romantically involved with a person in Toronto who would like to immigrate to the United States.

Mr. Tony Gallo, the President of the Lorain County Chamber, was at the City Club last Friday and he remembered us asking a question there.

just might see what we can do to spend more time in Lorain.

We left Lorain early and hurried back to Cleveland because we wanted to a program about the best books of 2015 which took place at the Happy Dog on Detroit Avenue. This program was put on by the City Club in collaboration with the Happy Dog and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. We arrived just in time and shared a table with Ms. Jean Collins and Mr. Steve Capuozzo from the Cleveland Public Library.

The evening consisted of Ms. Cal Zunt of the Notable Book Council of the American Library Association and Ms. Karen R. Long, Manager, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award sharing with the attendees their favorite fiction and nonfiction books of 2015. Among the books that they discussed were "H is for Hawk" by Helen MacDonald, "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara, "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty, "The Book of Aron" by Jim Shepard, "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and "Dreamland: The True Tale of the America Opiate Epidemic" by Sam Quinones.

Ms. Zunt and Ms. Long also conducted a contest where they would read a famous quote and we, the audience, had to come up with which book it came from and who the author was. We don't read that much but we still recognized a quote from "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving because we saw the film that was made from it.

Attendees were also welcomed to come forward and talk about a book that they had read in 2015 that had touched them somehow. Along these lines, a person gave a very enthusiastic recommendation of "The Heart of the Artichoke" by David Tanis.

We agreed with Ms. Long when she said that a metric of a good book is if a reader would give it to his/her good friend to read when the reader is done with it. In other words, pay it forward.

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