Monthly Archives: February 2015

//February

The PARCC and Reactions Here in Northbrook & Deerfield

Last week, Deep Blue Financial quoted opponents of the PARCC. This week, we review its supporters. Part II: PARCC: An Educational Success Story Of Reform The Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career (PARCC) are the new tests that are due out next week. They replace the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) and are meant to test critical thinking and experience-based skills rather than knowledge. As mentioned last week, some educators detest the PARCC saying that it is difficult and complex. But others love it. One fact about this PARCC is that it is definitely controversial. There are as many opinions as student hairstyles. How Will You PARCC? To understand the PARCC and how it will effect Northbrook and the rest of the North Shore, one has to start with the Common Core Standards which were formalized in 2009. The problem was that For years, the academic [...]

By |2015-02-27T18:04:34-06:00February 27th, 2015|Local Events|Comments Off on The PARCC and Reactions Here in Northbrook & Deerfield

Department of Labor Announces New Rules for Investment Advisors and Retirement Accounts

This week the Labor Department announced new rules proposing that advisors must take fiduciary responsibility when working with tax deferred retirement accounts. This move was almost immediately condemned by Wall Street firms as an overreach of an already meddling government. To get on the record, my response as an owner of a financial advisory firm “It's about time, what have you been waiting for?” If you have spent any time reading through our website you will have undoubtedly realized that I am a heavy advocate of advisors doing the right thing. As a fiscally conservative, socially middle of the road and active commentator on politics I would have liked to see the industry move itself towards treating clients with some respect. But investing is an inherently complicated beast; and that complication has allowed for bad investment advice to be the industry norm rather than an occasional problem. Investment Advisors [...]

By |2016-11-21T06:57:23-06:00February 25th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Department of Labor Announces New Rules for Investment Advisors and Retirement Accounts

Do VA Changes Mean Changes for North Shore Veterans?

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has stated its requirement to hire about 10,000 clinicians and nurses, including 1,500 doctors, to help meet the rising demands. Fixing the problems that were at the root of the waiting-list scandal at the VA will cost $17.6 billion over three years. This was informed by the agency’s acting secretary Sloan D. Gibson last year. As of this article we had not received a response on what changes may affect the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. The department, which has an annual budget of $154 billion, runs 150 medical centers and hundreds of clinics, apart from providing benefits such as disability compensation to veterans. In the wake of the scandal, doubts have arisen over the VA’s ability to accurately forecast staffing needs. Nobody knows for sure whether 10,000 more personnel will solve all the VA problems. Lawmakers have persistently [...]

By |2015-02-24T19:51:10-06:00February 24th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Do VA Changes Mean Changes for North Shore Veterans?

Why Swiss Francs Matter Financially, Even Here in Chicago

Swinging an economic power tool with the negative interest rate In December, Switzerland took the radical move of introducing a 0.25% negative interest rate. While it is an unusual method, this is not the first time it has been utilized; though admittedly the use of a negative interest rate is one of the larger and more radical options for a central bank to wield. What is it, why would you want it, and does it work? In most normal circumstances, interest rates are positive, and the lender will receive money for doing so in the form of interest. However, a negative interest rate heralds a reversal of the situation, where it no longer pays to lend money. When an amount is deposited, it depreciates as interest is levied on the deposited sum. This sounds like a bad thing, but sometimes it can be an incredibly useful tool for central banks. [...]

By |2015-02-20T18:43:05-06:00February 20th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Why Swiss Francs Matter Financially, Even Here in Chicago

Deerfield, Northbrook & Highland Park Students, PARCC is Almost Here!

Good Luck on the PARCC! Schools are readying for their end of February tests and this time teachers as well as students are anxious about the results. In a manner of speaking, Northshore schools may also be drumming a historic moment since the government is fed up with is low academic levels and has decided to introduce a new component. The PARCC tests. PARCC is coming to the Northshore of Chicago How different are these PARCC tests to the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT)? The new tests stress problem solving and critical thinking; are said to be more relevant to the real world; definitely have higher expectations; and not all Northshore schools are happy about the transition. Dr. Brian Bullis, the principal of Caruso Middle School in Deerfield blogged that “The rigor of these assessments far exceeds anything students across the nation have experienced before in the form [...]

By |2015-02-17T19:25:20-06:00February 17th, 2015|Local Events|Comments Off on Deerfield, Northbrook & Highland Park Students, PARCC is Almost Here!

Changes to Student Loans

Key Regulatory Changes that Support Student Loan Borrowers A number of regulatory changes in the area of student loan interest rates have been implemented over the last few months to help student loan borrowers. Students seeking higher education through affordable loans should note these changes in order to make better informed decisions. Federal Student Loan Interest Rates In 2013, a new law had been passed that based the rate of interest on federal student loans off the latest 10-year Treasury note rate with the addition of a built in margin. Any new loan granted on or after July 1st, 2014 would have this rate as a “fixed rate” for the entire term of the loan. According to this new rule, the interest rate for loans made between July 1st, 2014 and June 30th, 2015 would be as follows: Direct subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans for undergrads @ 4.66% Direct unsubsidized [...]

By |2015-02-16T18:35:44-06:00February 16th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Changes to Student Loans

Economic Recovery and the Reality

The Benefits of the Economic Recovery yet to Reach the Average Citizen The American economy is looking a little brighter nowadays. The first quarter was marked by a shrinking GDP, but the next three quarters revealed a modest recovery. About 260,000 jobs were added each month between April and November. Though many of them were part time and low paying jobs, they were jobs nonetheless. 2014 Unemployment Rate The rate of unemployment was below six percent in September, and has consistently declined. Consumer spending has rebounded, the real estate market is looking up, and the American people on the whole are beginning to feel more affirmative about their economic future. Benefits Yet to Reach the Masses While the positive signs of economic recovery are very encouraging, the key challenges still remain. The average American citizen has yet to taste the benefits of the recovery. Through 2013, the average [...]

By |2015-02-11T20:05:48-06:00February 11th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Economic Recovery and the Reality

Last Week’s Jobs Report Showing Massive 2014 Gains

If you walked into most trading floors late last week the most discussed topic would have been Friday's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report. And the numbers reported were good. But the most remarkable numbers were buried in the back. One could be excused for thinking that the BLS would use the back of the report to tuck away retractions and mistakes. But this was something different entirely, buried in the back are adjustments to previous jobs reports; the 2014 adjustments showed that last year was not just good, 2014 was remarkable. Find the jobs report here: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm Source: BLS.gov 2014 Jobs Report The November numbers alone were revised up by almost ¼ to a total number of 423,000 added. The total number of added jobs for 2014 currently stands at 3.1 million accounting for the best numbers since 1999. The jobs number is a notoriously trend [...]

By |2015-02-10T02:53:54-06:00February 10th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Last Week’s Jobs Report Showing Massive 2014 Gains

Debt vs. Investing for Retirement Savings

Handling the Dilemma of Using Your Savings to Pay off Your Debt Load Have you been managing your debt’s monthly payments, and building your savings simultaneously? It’s natural for the debt, wealth, and investment management dilemmas to impact your thoughts at some point in time. Finding the answer to them, however, is not the simplest of tasks. You need to be well aware of your financial situation, financial and investment management goals, priority factors that significantly affect your quality of life, and more. Not only your current savings, but also your future earnings might seem like a tempting solution to your debt worries. So do you roll over your 401(k) into an IRA or savings account or liquidate your retirement fund to eradicate your current debt load? Here’s your guide to understanding when it’s right to dig into your savings to settle a debt score, and when you’d be better [...]

By |2015-02-05T21:09:47-06:00February 5th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Debt vs. Investing for Retirement Savings

Feb 8th Keshet and the Frances Avner Torah Learning Center – Helping Each Other Grow and Learn

Helping Each Other Grow and Learn Parents of children and young adults with special needs are invited to attend an hour long panel discussion on the topic of Best Practices in the World of Special Needs.  Hosted and organized by the Torah Learning Center and Keshet based in Northbrook, the event will be moderated by Abbie Weisberg, Keshet CEO, and Ali Rosenthal of TLC who have gathered more than 25 experts. Topics will include financial, vocational, legal, educational, and social opportunities. The event is followed by a comprehensive resource fair. Keshet is the Jewish provider of educational, recreational, vocational and social programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Last year, TLC organized its first Helping Each Other Grow and Learn program that proved so popular that Keshet offered to partner in 2015. The organizers, Ali and Abbie, have extended themselves to contacting any and every Illinois specialist who deals with special [...]

By |2015-02-07T18:12:07-06:00February 4th, 2015|Local Events|Comments Off on Feb 8th Keshet and the Frances Avner Torah Learning Center – Helping Each Other Grow and Learn