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July 2015 Market Update

Things are suddenly looking a lot more interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. The long-simmering showdown between Greece and the Eurozone came to a head last week as negotiations between the two parties broke down and tensions rose to a breaking point. The Greek government essentially shut down the national banking system, freezing assets and only allowing small cash withdrawals. These measures were intended to prevent what had been shaping up as a Depression-style run on the banks as desperate Greeks tried to withdraw their euros before they got converted back into nearly worthless drachmas, a possibility that suddenly looked more likely than it had just a week or two ago.

Meanwhile, the markets, which do not like uncertainty, reacted strongly to all the turmoil with big sell-offs in equities markets on Wall Street and around the globe. The Dow Jones fell almost 350 points on Monday, June 29 as it became apparent that the two sides were headed for divorce and that a sovereign debt default seemed unavoidable.

And that was just Monday! The week continued in similar fashion. Greece did indeed fail to pay a $1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion dollar) installment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that was due on Tuesday; it also announced that a national referendum would be held to determine if the Greeks would accept Europe’s distasteful offer to remain in the Eurozone. The referendum itself was seen as a ploy on the part of the Greek government to push off responsibility for negotiations on the voters and away from the government. It also complicated negotiations, particularly given that the referendum was scheduled for Sunday, July 5, several days after the IMF payment was due, and missed.

Despite the drama and increasing hostility between the two sides, it is still not inevitable that Greece will exit the Eurozone. A “yes” vote in Sunday’s referendum would give the government cover to accept a compromise that they have strongly resisted until now. But a “no” vote would be widely seen as Greece’s acquiescence to a complete economic dissolution with Europe. Polls indicate that public opinion is divided. As much as many Greeks feel mistreated and misunderstood by their European partners, many do not want to leave the economic union. In any event, it is certainly true that all eyes will be on Greece this Sunday. The results will be momentous, whatever the outcome.

Greece was not the only interesting bit of news this week. Another jobs report was released, and once again, the US economy is showing continued growth. The economy added 223,000 new jobs in June, close to analysts’ expectations. The unemployment rate also fell from 5.5% to 5.3%. This news, which most people would view as positive, was viewed less favorably by the markets. Investors took the jobs report as another sign that a rate increase is coming. The Dow Jones closed at 17,730 on Thursday, July 2, ending the week a day early for the 4th of July holiday almost 500 points lower than it had been not much more than a week before.

The Greek situation will bear watching closely in the days ahead, but the consequences of a Grexit is still probably not a serious today as it would have been two or three years ago. And rate increases will only come if the economy is strong enough to tolerate them – like a dose of castor oil, something we will all find distasteful, but know is going to make us stronger in the long run!


June 2015 Market Update

Another month, another yawn. I feel like a broken record, but here goes anyway. The economy is good, but not great. The markets are neither soaring nor are they plunging. Job growth continues to crawl higher, and unemployment continues to notch lower even while the labor force participation rate remains well below average for the past several decades. 
In short, there’s nothing to get too excited about. But, then again, there’s not much to make us want to hide under our beds either. 
One trend that is making people a little nervous is the ever so slight upward tick in rates. A couple of Market Reports ago, I talked about how the Fed seemed to be moving closer to raising rates as the economy strengthened. Of course, right after I said that, some of the factors that seemed likely to push the Fed to increase rates shifted directions just enough to give them cover for not doing so. 
But lately, rates have started to drift upward again as continued, albeit slow, economic improvement once again puts pressure on the Fed to increase rates. Not that this is going to happen tomorrow. But the day is coming, or at least that’s what people are starting to believe. And perception quickly becomes reality in the financial markets. 
For evidence of this trend, consider the 10-Year Treasury. It had been as low as 1.73% in late January and remained mostly below 2% until late April, but then pushed past this threshold and appears to be staying there. Since April 28, the 10-year rate has been above 2%, and it is currently right around 2.25%.  Many analysts fear that it will rise further. 
But will it? Who really knows? This certainly would not be the first time rates were predicted to start rising and then fail to do so. And even if they do, we’re starting from such a low base that any increase will take a while to start hurting.
Since we can’t predict the future, and since I don’t seem to have much of anything else worthwhile to say, I’m going to just hang it up for the month and see if there’s anything more interesting that happens between now and July. And, speaking of July, it’s summer, so this is as good a time as any to cut it short and get outside for some fresh air. After all, we only get a few months of nice weather around here. We might as well take advantage of it and leave off such unpleasant thoughts as rising rates, international discord, the prospects of yet another painful presidential election cycle, or another dismal Cubs season… well, maybe not – as I write this article, they’re in second place behind the Cardinals in the Central Division – GO CUBBIES!!
So, take a break, get out of the office, go have a barbecue. We can worry about the economy and/or interest rates again in October when the snow starts to fly. GO HAWKS!!


RPBG Makes Commitment to Sullivan High School

Serving the Rogers Park community has always been a central plank of RPBG’s mission. We have demonstrated this commitment repeatedly, most recently with the approval of a $5,000 gift to Artspace, a non-profit developer that has expressed an interest in creating a live-work space for artists within the Rogers Park community.


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May 2015 Market Update

These articles are pretty easy to write when things are really good, or really bad, or really volatile. But they’re a lot harder to write when not much is going on. And frankly, right now, not much is going on.


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April 2015 Market Update

After twelve consecutive months of employment growth at 200,000 jobs or better, the March 2015 numbers finally broke the trend, and not in a good way. To the surprise of many, the March jobs figure came in at 126,000, well below expectations.


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March 2015 Market Update

Chicago and the Eastern United States have just experienced a record cold February. But, where the economy is concerned, it feels a lot more like July. Yet, despite the strong jobs and employment reports released this morning (Friday, March 6) or perhaps, because of them, the markets are in retreat.


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February 2015 Market Update

There’s been a lot of volatility in the markets of late, a reflection of the general confusion about what direction the economy is headed.  One minute, the markets seem to reflect unbridled optimism.  A day later, everyone is running for the hills. The simple question is, why? 


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Trends in the Industry Workshop

Only a few spaces remaining for Tuesday’s event. You can still register on line – Register Now – with registration ($20) extended through to 5PM Monday. It's the Rogers Park Builders Group's premier event of the year, our Trends in the Industry Workshop, where a group of 70 - 90 of us casually get together, and through the guidance of skilled moderators (who later become panelists), discuss and argue about local, regional and national real estate trends.

We crown the evening by recognizing that moderator whose group came the closest to predicting certain real estate outcomes at our event two years ago.

The event is on the 4th Tuesday of the month, January 27th, at 6:30PM, at Loyola University's Information Commons on Loyola's Lakeshore campus. Registration for the event is $20.00 if you register online. Event Fee is waived for 2015 paid members. You may purchase or renew your Associates membership with this registration.

  • When:  Tuesday January 27, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM CST
  • Where: Loyola University Chicago's Information Commons
  • $7 Parking at Loyola's Main Parking Garage.
  • Dinner and beverages included.
  • $20 Online Registration • $25 at the door
Free for paid members .Online registration has been extended through 5:00 pm on Monday, January 26th. On-site registration will be $25, but space is limited and seats are not guaranteed. Depending on availability, we will take cash, check or credit - at the door.
There are several purposes of this email:
  • a) Sponsorship opportunities cost $250. Sign up early as a sponsor and be sure that your company's name is displayed on all notices promoting this event, and we will offer you lots of recognition and praise the evening of the event, and an opportunity to dump (I mean, place) your literature on the tables, and possibly even say a few words.
  • b) Guests: This event also launches our membership drive for 2015. You may pay for up to two prospective members with this registration. Or if you know anyone who you think might be interested in learning more about our organization, please forward this invitation, or  be sure to send me an email with that prospect's name, phone and email address. Also, send us names of folks who you think might be interested in this event, even if they are not prospective members. We are especially interested in attracting more landlords, property managers, and, yes, developers - even if they don't presently focus on Rogers Park.
  • c) Let me know if you are interested in serving as a panelist, or if you have any suggestions as to how to improve the format beyond what we have done in previous years.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season - read up on your trends so you can be prepared - and we will see you next year!
Rogers Park Builders Group
Allen Smith President
Mike Glasser, Event Chair
Please contact me if you have any questions about this event, and if you would like to learn more about Sponsorship opportunities.
Mike Glasser, Event Chair
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January 2015 Market Update

As the New Year begins, there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic about the near future, but also some potential for trouble ahead. First, the good news:
Let’s start with the stock market. It’s been on a tear all year and, despite running into a little turbulence at the end of 2014, is still near its all-time highs. After hitting 18,000 around the Christmas holiday, the Dow Jones is currently about 17,500. 


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December 2014 Market Update

After nearly six months of steady gains, the equities markets ran into some major turbulence this week that caught just about everyone by surprise. Today's jobs report is the best in almost two years with 321,000 new jobs added to the economy in November, and an upward revision to the previous two months' job totals of 44,000.


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November 2014 Market Update


October was one of those “interesting” months when Dickens famous quote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” seemed especially appropriate. But, whatever roller coaster, stomach-churning market dips we might have endured over the course of the month, it’s definitely sunny skies again as I write this article.


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