Let DPS families choose schools

The plans proposed to date to address Detroit’s public school crisis are too expensive and insufficient to the task of eliminating debt while elevating the education prospects of the city’s 46,000 public school kids. For a city that has seen the Detroit Three become vital again through re-invention, it’s sad that Motor City perseverance has yet to pervade the education sector.

Still, it’s possible to immediately improve the academic fates of Detroit schoolchildren while paying off Detroit Public Schools’ legacy without a bailout, and to essentially give every child a check to attend a school of choice.

While a new education system of schools driven by parental choice may upset the educational powers that be, it would otherwise reflect the will of the people. When it comes to education, the public “will” has been expressed by a majority of Detroit parents who have already voted with their feet by opting out of DPS for charters or private schools, and the eight in 10 Detroit parents who want more choice.

In the spirit of re-invention, the aim should be to get DPS’ $515 million in legacy debt off the backs of kids while reinventing education in Detroit as a system of independent schools where money follows the child to the school their families choose.

Under a “new district”– such as Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed Detroit Community School District — the approximately $7,550 state foundation formula could be augmented by DPS’s current average $1,530 federal Title I allocation. Hypothetically, this could lead to a self-funded (re: no bailout) CSD, with an average per pupil for low-income Detroit schoolchildren of around $9000.

Under this scenario, state and federal dollars would fund Detroit school kids, while local levy dollars (per Snyder’s plan) would be channeled to the “old district” (DPS) to pay off legacy debt, after which DPS would be dissolved.

The Michigan Department of Education document charts Title I expenditures for all schools in the state. For Detroit city schools (line 82010), 66,714 impoverished kids are allocated about $102 million in Title I dollars, which amount to about $1,530 per child.

Unfortunately, around $3,000 of today’s $7,500 in state aid already goes to debt, leaving a per pupil balance of around $6,000 ($4,500 in net state aid plus approximately $1,500 in federal aid).

This is why governance reform is sorely needed — reform that replaces an unwieldy central office with a self-funded governing board that can preside over an all-charter district. The savings that would come via replacing DPS’s $90 million central office would yield up to $2,000 more per child, getting closer to the average of $8,000 per pupil allocated to charter school students today — that is, net state aid of $4,500 plus $1,500 Title I plus $2,000 per pupil in central office savings. (Under a new district, all federal dollars should follow the child to the school they attend, as charter schools qualify for the same Title I eligibility requirements as district schools.)

Legislators should emulate Washington DC’s self-funded Public Charter School Board, which does not run schools directly but, rather, authorizes 60 operators to manage 115 schools. The DC board manages performance contracts with each operator, closes schools that do not meet performance standards and tries to scale schools that succeed. It does not manage where students must attend school; parents are free to choose to enroll their children in any school. Importantly, the DC Charter School Board is a good model for a lean central office, as it is funded from a 1 percent fee it charges to the charters that participate in the system.

As Michigan legislators and the governor grapple with a new path forward for Detroit education, they should strongly consider a path forward that would retire debt without a bailout while developing a new governance model that empowers parents.

Greg Harris was the founding executive director of Excellent Schools Detroit in 2011. He has worked in education as a teacher, and in policy and advocacy.

Small businesses: The next fixed income frontier?

Forget the US government — how about lending to your neighborhood dentist instead?

Thats what firms like Direct Lending Investments aim to allow investors to do, albeit indirectly. The $450 million fund buys loans from nonbank lenders, and packages them in portfolio form for consumption by accredited investors (although it is attempting to transition into a more accessible closed-end fund).

The potential opportunity arises from a few different factors. Over the past several years, traditional bank lending has slowed, and yields on Treasurys and other ultrasafe bonds have fallen, which has increased the demand for nontraditional loans, resulting in outsized yields.

For instance, even as Treasury bonds returned basically nothing in 2015, Direct Lending Investments delivered an 11.7 return. This as the default rate on loans in the portfolio ran at 4.6 percent.

According to Brendan Ross, who founded and runs the fund, the extra yield comes not from increased credit risk, generally considered to be the primary source of enhanced yield in the fixed income world, but from other sources.

The premium we tap into is related to the bank decline in lending to small businesses. And that bank decline comes from the fact that banks find it difficult to securitize the kind of short-duration loans that we have in our portfolio, Ross said in a Friday interview on CNBCs Trading Nation, referring to loans that tend to expire in about a years time.

Read MoreUS franchises set to grow in 2016: Report

Virginia Credit Union offers two financial educational seminars

Virginia Credit Union will host a First-time Home Buyers seminar, where participants can learn about the process of purchasing a home and obtaining a mortgage, on Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 6:30-7:30 pm Mortgage experts will be on hand to answer specific questions.

Another seminar, Strategies for Eliminating Debt, will include practical steps for identifying and prioritizing debt, reducing expenses and accelerating the repayment of debt, and will be offered on Thursday, Jan. 28, from 6:30-7:30 pm

Both seminars are free and will be held at the Virginia Credit Union Boulders Office Park located at 7500 Boulder View Drive. Registration is required. To register or for more information, call 323-6800 or visit vacu.org.

CircleBack Lending leases new HQ in Boca Raton

An online consumer lending company has signed a seven-year lease in Boca Raton for its new headquarters. 

CircleBack Lending leased 42,000 square feet at Boca Colonnade I, marking one of the biggest leases of 2015 for Palm Beach County. Fort Lauderdale-based Stiles Realty Vice President Matthew Schwartz represented the tenant, according to a press release. Liberty Property Trust‘s director of leasing Jonathan Guffey represented itself.

CircleBack moved from a 15,000-square-foot space in the same building at 777 Yamato Road. Liberty paid $24 million for the property in 1998, Palm Beach County records show. It was developed in 1989.

Boca Colonnade I spans 155,481 square feet of Class A office space and features a two-story parking garage, according to Stiles. In a statement, Schwartz said the company has grown quickly and needed to move within 30 days.

In December, Ivy Realty acquired two fully leased buildings at the Park at Broken Sound complex in Boca. Ivy paid nearly $27 million for the Meridian Office Center. – Katherine Kallergis

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Gear Up for Another Year of Heavy Lending

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expect to break more records this year in their lending on multifamily properties. That means both agencies will have to keep up the tremendously busy pace they set in 2015.

I think our activity is going to be higher in 2016 than last year, says John Cannon, senior vice president of multifamily production, sales and marketing for Freddie Mac.

A giant year for Fannie and Freddie

Freddie Mac lent $47 billion to apartment properties in 2015, up more than two thirds compared to the year before. Fannie Mae lent $42 billion. Both far exceeded the $30 billion limit set on their multifamily lending by their federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA). Since the government seized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the financial crisis, FHFA has set limits on their lending activities, though those limits loosened in the spring of 2015. Lending to affordable housing properties and workforce housing properties no longer counts towards their $30 billion limits.

The change allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve very strong demand for loans in the multifamily sector. That booming business should continue in 2016, though at a slower rate of growth. It wouldnt surprise me if one or both hit $50 billion in 2016, says a source from commercial real estate services firm JLL.

Strong demand for loans was the main reason that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lent so much in 2015.

There was just an incredible amount of transactions, including both purchase and refinance activity, says MitchellW.Kiffe, senior managing director for debt and structured financewith commercial real estate services firm CBRE.

Borrowers needed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans to finance transactions including entire portfolios of apartment properties, like Loan Star Funds giant purchase of Home Properties, financed by Freddie Mac. Large, expensive properties like Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan also sold in 2015 with help from $2.7 billion in loan guarantees from Fannie Mae.

In addition, borrowers used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans to refinance apartment mortgages that reached the end of their terms in 2015, including many 10-year loans made at the end of the last real estate boom. That demand will continue as more loans come due in 2016 and 2017. We know this is going to be a big refinance year, says Faron Thompson, international director and head of the Atlanta capital markets group for JLL.

Workforce housing

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also increased their lending to affordable and workforce housing properties. Freddie Macs $47 billion in lending includes more than $17 billion in affordable and workforce housing loans. Fannie Maes $42 billion includes more than $12 billion.

That is an extraordinary amount of uncapped business, says CBREs Kiffe. They are both obviously focused on workforce and affordable housing.

New loan products helped the agencies grow their business.Freddie Mac has created two rehab products, each designed to maintain multi-housing stock in the US Borrowers will need to commit anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 in capital improvements, the majority of which should be for work inside multifamilyunits.

The concept is to take a property that hasnt been updated for 30-plus years and bring it closer to modern standards, says Freddie Macs Cannon.

Fannie Mae is also expanding its loan offerings to help finance affordable and workforce housing. Im told Fannie Mae is working on a value-added product as well, says JLLs Thompson.

Interest rates inch up for Fannie, Freddie

However, the interest rates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer inched higher in the second half of 2015. Strain in the bonds markets pushed prices down and yields higher for many types of bonds. For example, the yield on Fannie Maes floating-rate mortgage-backed securities rose about 40 basis points to reach a total spread of 85 basis points over Treasury bonds.

I think credit spreads are going to stay wide, says CBREs Kiffe. Theres a lot of loan activity out there. Theres not a big competitive push for lenders to cut spreads.

For permanent financing, agency lenders now offer interest rates averaging around 230 basis points over the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds, or 4.25 percent to 4.50 percent for a typical permanent loan that covers 75 percent of the value of an apartment property.

Were seeing Fannie Mae be more competitive in the fixed-rate space, says JLLs Thompson. Freddie Macs floating-rate money seems to win over Fannie more times than not.

Life companies and bank lenders offer strong competition, particularly for lower leverage loans. However, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and conduit lenders continue to be the main sources of higher leverage apartment loans. And Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to offer better interest rates, earlier interest rate locks and more certainty of execution than conduits.

Bell Gully announces two new special counsel

“These five new senior associates are
outstanding lawyers and showcase the depth and breadth of
talent we have across the firm,” commented

Natasha Garvan is an environmental
and resource management law specialist. Her expertise
includes providing strategic advice for large scale
projects; assessing policy options to inform proposed
legislation and regulation; drafting notices of appeal and
legal submissions; appearing before councils and the Courts;
and undertaking due diligence for major corporate and
property transactions. Natasha has a background in political
studies with a particular focus on policy analysis and
comparative public policy.

Lisa McLennan
specialises in environmental and planning law with
experience advising on major infrastructure projects. She
regularly assists clients in the preparation of strategic
advice, consenting and undertaking due diligence and is
familiar with liaising with large teams of consultants.
Prior to joining Bell Gully, Lisa worked for leading global
management consultancy firm, Accenture in the

Kate Venning is a commercial
litigator with experience in civil and criminal litigation
and international arbitration. Kate has worked on several
high profile commercial disputes both in New Zealand and

Gemma Wills has
expertise in a wide range of property transactions, with a
focus on property acquisitions, disposals and property
finance transactions. Gemma is also experienced in advising
on the Overseas Investment Act 2005 for many international

Kristin Wilson is an
experienced litigator specialising in media and consumer
law. She has expertise in advertising, food law, privacy
(including cyber security), media law and intellectual
property. Kristin regularly provides advice regarding
product labelling, consumer law, advertising and


#169; Scoop Media

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

In response to 25 years in business, ACCC offers financial resources to help improve consumers financial wellbeing in key areas such as budgeting, credit, and college planning.

Boston, MA (PRWEB) January 25, 2016

In order to help enhance consumers financial wellbeing during their 25th year in business, national non-profit American Consumer Credit counseling offers a wide range of online financial resources in the areas of financial literacy, budgeting, credit, housing, and youth and money, among others.

Improving consumers financial literacy is extremely important, as it can have a significant impact on so many aspects of their lives, said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling, which is based in Newton, MA. In order to do this we have developed a number of financial tools, calculators, and articles on a wide range of topics that are designed to help improve personal financial situations.

In a recent survey of 150,000 adults in 148 countries by McGraw Hill Financial, the United States ranked 14th in financial literacy, trailing countries such as the Czech Republic and Singapore. Only 57 percent of Americans received a passing grade compared to more than 70 percent in Denmark and Sweden. Data also revealed that middle-aged people (35-54) in the United States are more financially literate than young people (15-34).

By using these financial resources, consumers can learn more about managing their financial lives and planning for their financial future. Further, budgeting, understanding credit reports and scores, identity theft, and retirement planning will assist consumers in building a foundation needed to help avoid making decisions in the future that could lead to financial hardship.

In addition to these resources, ACCC has a wide range of tools that can be used to manage a consumers financial life.

Budgeting: Responsible financial planning starts with budgeting. A budget can help consumers save for the future by finding ways to save money and cut back. ACCC has compiled helpful resources, such as a budgeting worksheet and daily expense tracker, to help consumers understand, track and create a successful budget.

Starting Young: It is so important that children start learning about finances at a young age so they are better prepared to make sound financial decisions in the future. ACCC provides downloadable workbooks for parents to help youth of all ages understand the basics of money management and assist in developing healthy financial habits.

College Planning: With the average cost of college tuition on the rise and student loan debt reaching record highs, it is more important than ever to financially prepare for college. Developing a realistic and manageable budget is a lifelong skill that will be essential to prepare for college, while in school, and even after you graduate from college. In response, ACCC provides a downloadable Financial Workbook for College Students.

Identity Theft: With identity theft on the rise, ACCC joined forces with the Federal Trade Commission to provide the FTCs national campaign, Fighting Against Identity Theft. The purpose of the campaign is to encourage consumers to protect themselves against identity theft and minimize its damage by providing information on Identity Theft Protection. In the unfortunate case where a consumers identity has been stolen, ACCC has created a guide focusing on What To Do If Your Identity Has Been Stolen.

Credit: Credit allows consumers to purchase items and services now and pay for them later. Having credit is nice, but knowing how to manage and maintain good credit can be very challenging. Because credit reports and scores can have a significant effect on a consumers life, ACCC provides consumers with a guide to understanding reports.

To learn more about these resources as well as other financial topics, please visit ACCCs Financial Education section at consumercredit.com.

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loans, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCCs worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) and the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/01/prweb13178315.htm

Close Brothers Group (LON:CBG) Receives Equal Weight Rating From Barclays Capital Analysts

Close Brothers Group plc is a United Kingdom-based merchant banking company. The Company provides lending, deposit taking, wealth management services and securities trading. The Company operates through three divisions: banking, which provides a range of lending products to the United Kingdom small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as installment payment solutions to the United Kingdom retail borrowers; securities, which provides dealing and execution services to financial institutions through Winterflood, and asset management, which provides wealth management service for individuals, incorporating both financial planning advice and investment management. Its portfolio of solutions include asset finance, broker finance, brewery rentals, asset-based lending, commercial vehicle rentals, invoice finance, motor finance, property finance, savings, treasury, bespoke investment management, self-directed service, employee benefits solutions, leasing and insurance premium finance.

Top Trends in Online Lending for 2016

Though online lending has been around for over a decade, the past year was a big one for the sector. There was at least one notable IPO in late 2014, a groundbreaking partnership with one of the largest banks in the US, and several young online lenders crossed the billion-dollar mark in valuations. Momentum is building as consumers and governments alike take note of the industry’s growing impact on the financial ecosystem.

Morgan Stanley estimates the size of the US online-marketplace lending industry to be around $1.9 trillion, based on 2014 data, and anticipates a 47 percent compound annual growth rate through 2020. Moving into 2016, these are three of the biggest trends people should watch for in online lending:

1. Expect to see more online lenders working with the banking industry, instead of disrupting it.
Burdened with antiquated underwriting models and legacy systems to assess the creditworthiness of consumers, traditional banks will look to online lending platforms with greater technological infrastructure to better review candidates. Online lending startups usually have the agility and flexibility to accommodate and respond quicker to consumers’ needs with shorter applications, lower borrowing costs, real-time approvals, and next-day funding.

In December 2015, JP Morgan announced a pilot program to offer small business loans through fintech lender OnDeck. It’s one of the largest partnerships of its kind, but all signs point to this trend continuing in 2016. Taking advantage of the convenience and on-demand nature of the online process, banks will gain access to a wider customer base, while leveraging existing loyalty to create a bigger pool for all, through these collaborations. Applicants who may have previously been denied a loan based on their credit score alone will have a second chance to have their creditworthiness assessed using a more diverse set of variables. Building off each industry’s strengths in customer experience and service, online lender-bank hybrids will continue to flourish in the new year.

2. Regulators will pay closer attention to the online lending industry.
The online lending industry has been very active over the past several years and shows no signs of slowing down. As a result of this rapid growth, the space has piqued the interest of regulators who will inevitably take a closer look to understand the advantages and risks of this new business model.

Online lending is already a highly regulated industry, overseen by many of the same regulatory bodies as traditional banks at both the state and federal levels. In 2016, regulators will begin to investigate the industry’s credit underwriting practices and relationships with financers to ensure that consumers are being protected. This could open new opportunities in previously underserved markets and will add more transparency as alternative lending becomes the norm.

3. Smaller players will struggle to keep pace with massive growth in online lending.
Interest in the space is at an all-time high, so new entrants and smaller platforms will continue to make a play for market share in 2016. However, with Lending Club going public last year and Avant, SoFi, and Prosper all recently joining the unicorn club, certain leaders have emerged and the distance between this handful of companies and their competitors continues to widen.

The online lending industry, overall, has high barriers to entry – requiring large amounts of capital, oversight to ensure regulatory compliance at multiple levels, and technological sophistication to ensure that risk is being priced accurately. Most significantly, attracting investors can be a challenge for unproven newcomers, whose brands and value proposition remain untested. Due to these obstacles, 2016 will see a greater divide between bigger, established players and unproven up-and-comers.

Al Goldstein is the co-founder and CEO of Avant, an online marketplace lending platform that is changing the way consumers obtain credit by lowering the costs and barriers of borrowing. Follow @Avant_US

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