Three Ways to Cultivate an Enterprising Nature By: Jim Rohn

April 17th, 2015

One of the greatest satisfactions of living life to the fullest is doing the best you can with whatever you have. Doing anything less than your best has a way of eroding the psyche. We are creatures of enterprise.

Enterprising people are those people disciplined and dedicated enough to seize opportunities that present themselves... regardless of the current situation, struggles or obstacles.


Enterprising people see the future in the present. They will always find a way to take advantage of situations, not be burdened by them. And enterprising people aren't lazy. They don't wait for opportunities to come to them; they go after the opportunities. Enterprising means; always finding a way to keep yourself actively working toward your ambition. We can be particularly creative at working at less than our potential, though.

But by practicing a few simple disciplines every day, you can cultivate an enterprising nature. Here’s how to use your time smartly, to make sure you’re always working toward your ambition:


1. Run the day or it will run you. Some will be masters of their time, and some will be servants. Enterprising people become the masters.


To master your time, you must have clear written goals for each day that you keep with you at all times. It helps to create each day's list the night before. Prioritize your goals for the day and constantly review them. Enterprising people don't let the minor activities distract them from the major activities—the ones that hold the keys to their success.


2. Don't mistake activity for productivity. You probably know some people who always seem to be busy being busy. To be successful, you must be busy being productive. Some people are going, going, going, but they’re not making much progress. Don't mistake activity for productivity, movement for achievement. Evaluate the hours in your days and see if there is wasted time that you could manage better.


3. Focus. The third key is good concentration. You've got to zero in on the job at hand and, like an ant, let nothing stand in your way and let nothing distract you from the task. Assuming this is a major activity in pursuit of the highest leverage opportunity available, there should be nothing more valuable to invest your time in.


Enterprise is always better than ease. Every time we choose to do less than we possibly can, we limit our possibilities—we stifle our potential. You can alter your life by doing a little more each day to work smarter and by developing a habit of efficiency rather than the habit of activity.



Imagine what you could accomplish if you never quit and always did all that you could do.

Illinois medical marijuana's big players are risk-taking real estate, mortgage businessmen

April 17th, 2015

Late one Saturday night, Rob Sampson had a confrontation with his 15-year-old daughter about marijuana. But it was his daughter doing the confronting and it was Sampson defending the drug.


Sampson and his wife, after a long night of polishing his new company's applications to grow medical cannabis, returned to their suburban Chicago home to find their daughter waiting up. They hadn't yet told her their business plans. "She said, 'What is going on?'" Sampson recalled. "'I know something's going on and you guys aren't telling me.'"


That's when they had The Talk: a conversation Sampson and his three partners in Chicago-based Cresco Labs have repeated with parents, in-laws and co-workers to explain why they are switching livelihoods and risking millions of dollars to follow the promise of medical marijuana.


Cresco Labs is poised to become the state's largest marijuana grower. It won three cultivation permits, more than any other company. But the risks are daunting. Illinois' marijuana pilot program expires at the end of 2017 unless state lawmakers extend it. Far fewer patients have signed up than projected; only 2,000 have been approved at last count. Some Illinois doctors are skeptical.


What's more, Cresco is a defendant in two lawsuits filed by unsuccessful applicants. Cresco plans to build 40,000-square-foot growing facilities in Joliet, Kankakee and Lincoln, but the litigation could delay construction.


The cannabis industry isn't an opportunity for easy money, as some might believe, said Michael Elliott of the Marijuana Industry Group, a Colorado trade group. "A lot of businesses have failed in Colorado," Elliott said. "Everyone who got into it found it to be 10 times more complicated than they initially thought. And I imagine that's going to be true in Illinois as well."

Cresco Labs' four founding partners are accustomed to high stakes.


Dominic Sergi, the youngest at age 31, started his own real estate company, Clear Height Properties, in his 20s. Joe Caltabiano, Charles Bachtell and Sampson weathered the mortgage crisis in prominent positions at Chicago-based Guaranteed Rate, the largest independent retail mortgage company in the nation.


Caltabiano, a star in his field, will continue making mortgage loans. But Bachtell, a 36-year-old attorney who has been Guaranteed Rate's general counsel, and Sampson, its 40-year-old chief operating officer, are leaving the mortgage giant to work on medical marijuana full time. "Our departure is surprising a lot of people," Bachtell said.


Walking through their high-ceilinged headquarters in a River North brick-and-timber loft and settling around a conference room table, they readily agree their new venture presents their biggest career gamble yet. Caltabiano, 37, is a survivor of childhood leukemia to which he credits his "carpe diem attitude." He directly benefited from collaborative oncology research that, over several decades, has hugely improved survival for children with cancer. Remaining involved in follow-up research, he's quizzed oncologists about medical cannabis. They've told him they recommend it to ease nausea and other cancer treatment side effects.

"You have some of the smartest people in the world recommending a product that's a Schedule I narcotic the federal government has deemed has no medical benefit," Caltabiano said. "It got me thinking."


Cresco Labs' applications scored highest in the state's selection process, not only in the three districts where Cresco competed, but compared to scores across the state. The partners credit their edge to consulting with a reputable Denver cannabis company, wooing local support and winning bonus points by promising to contribute 10 percent of net profits to charities.


Michael Mayes, CEO of Quantum 9, a Chicago-based marijuana industry consultant, predicted Cresco Labs will survive the bumps and the litigation. "They're definitely one of the largest players in Illinois," Mayes said. "With three licenses, there's plenty to focus on. They'll be just fine."


Housing Starts Rose Less Than Expected in March

April 17th, 2015

The rate of permitting for construction of single family housing and residential construction completions were both down in March, Housing starts did rise slightly.


The Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that permits for privately owned housing were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,039,000 in March, a 5.7 percent drop from the February rate of 1,102,000 (revised from an original estimate of 1,092,000), and short of the forecast of 1,080,000. The March number was an increase of 2.9 percent from 1,010,000 a year earlier.

Single-family permits were issued at a rate of 636,000 units compared to 623,000 units the previous month.  This was a gain of 2.1 percent for the month and an annual increase of 4.1 percent.  Authorizations for construction of units in buildings of five or more units fell 16.0 percent to 378,000 and were down 1.6 percent from the previous March.


On a non-adjusted basis there were 90,900 permits issued for private residential construction in March compared to 77,500 in February.  Single-family permits numbered 57,100, up from 43,500 and 31,700 multi-family units were authorized compared to 32,000 in February. 


Construction was begun (housing 'starts') on residential units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 926,000.  This was a 2.0 percent improvement over February and the estimate for that month was revised from 897,000 units to 908,000, but short of the forecast for 1,040,000.  March housing starts were down 2.5 percent from the annual rate of 950,000 in March 2014.


Single-family housing starts were at a rate of 618,000 units, 4.4 percent above the slightly lowered number for February of 592,000 but down 2.7 percent from March of last year.   Multi-family starts were at a rate of 287,000 units, a 7.1 percent month-over-month decline. On a non-adjusted basis starts in March totaled 77,400 units, 52,500 of which were single-family houses.  In February the respective numbers were 63,600 and 40,800.


Residential construction was completed (housing 'completions') at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 823,000 units, a 3.9 percent decrease from 856,000 units in February and 5.8 percent below the estimate of 874,000 units a year earlier. The February rate was also revised upward from 850,000. 


Single family homes were completed at an estimated rate of 602,000 units, up 0.8 percent from 597,000 in February.  The rate of completions for multi-family units was 211,000, a -12.1 percent change. On a non-adjusted basis 63,000 units were completed during the month, a +4,400 unit change from February.  An estimated 46,300 of the total units were single-family.


At the end of the period there were an estimated 842,000 units (seasonally adjusted) under construction in the U.S.  Of these 363,000 were estimated to be single family houses. The number of previously issued permits for which construction had not yet started was estimated at 135,200 at the end of March.


In the Northeast region the rate of permitting rose 39.8 percent from February but was down 3.7 percent from March 2014.  Housing starts, which had plummeted by more than 50 percent in February, rose 114.9 percent in March but remained 18.5 percent below the estimated rate of starts the previous March. The rate of housing completions was unchanged from February and down 17.4 percent from a year earlier.


The Midwest saw a 4.4 percent drop in permits from February to March and a 5.6 percent decrease from a year earlier. Housing starts rose by 31.3 percent for the month but fell 11.9 percent on an annual basis.  Completions fell by 18.0 percent and 21.6 percent respectively for the two periods.


In the South the rate of permits dropped 14.2 percent from February but was 4.0 percent higher than in March 2014.  Housing starts were 3.5 percent lower than in February but up 4.2 percent from the previous March.  Completions were 3.2 percent lower than in February and 4.4 percent below a year earlier.



The rate of permitting in the West fell off from February by 4.3 percent but was up 9.9 percent on a year-over-year basis.  There was a 19.3 percent drop in housing starts from February's rate and 2.0 percent from the previous March.  Completions were up 2.3 percent and 5.6 percent on a monthly and annual basis.

U.S. Senator Calls for More Transparency from DOJ, Treasury Regarding GSE Profits

April 17th, 2015

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has written separate letters to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew seeking more transparency from the government regarding GSE profits. According to an announcement on Grassley's website, the Senator's letters were based on a report that originally appeared in the New York Times regarding an alleged lack of transparency and claims of the assertion of executive privilege by the government. These claims were made in relation to Treasury's amending of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's bailout agreement with the government in 2012.


The two GSEs received a combined $188 billion in bailout money in 2008 when they were taken into conservatorship by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA); in 2012, the GSEs returned to profitability but since then all of their profits have been swept into Treasury, a practice that investors say is unconstitutional and shortchanges taxpayers. Grassley wrote in his letters that it is unclear whether the President asserted executive privilege to withhold documents regarding the sweeping of GSE profits into Treasury and questions whether the Justice Department was authorized to withhold the documents.


The news reports that prompted Grassley's letters assert that the documents that were withheld are public by definition. "The taxpayer has a right to know what has transpired,” Grassley wrote in separate letters to Holder and Lew. "But, instead of transparency, there appears to be an invocation of executive privilege. If true, this is cause for concern."


In Grassley's letters, the Senator asks a series of questions surrounding the assertion of executive privilege and details regarding the Treasury's agreement, and whether or not the sweeping of GSE profits is in compliance with statutory requirements under the FHFA's conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Copies of Grassley's letters can be viewed here and here.


Rafferty Capital analyst Dick Bove called Grassley's sending of the letters "gargantuan" news. "This is the right guy asking the right questions at the right time," Bove said in a statement. "He is doing it because the Administration may have overplayed its hand in dealing with Fannie Mae. The Administration is taking all of the capital out of the company and intends that by 2018 it will have no capital at all. At the same time, the Administration and its dupe the Wall Street Journal are claiming that Fannie Mae will need another taxpayer bailout."


The sweeping of GSE profits into Treasury has prompted several lawsuits by investors, notably two by Pershing Square (one of which was voluntarily withdrawn by Pershing CEO Bill Ackman) and one by Fairholme Funds, which is still pending. Grassley is making it clear, however, that his calls for more transparency should not be construed as support of the investors' lawsuits. "Senator Grassley isn’t taking a position on who’s entitled to what shares or appropriate levels of return," a Grassley spokeswoman told DS News. "He’s simply asking why the Administration reportedly is citing executive privilege to withhold documents on major government decisions.  He says the public’s business ought to be public with few exceptions."


US commercial property Loan Defaults Hit Six-year Low

April 17th, 2015

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.


Defaults on US commercial property loans that back complex bonds that helped fuel the financial crisis slipped to a six-year low last year, as an economic recovery and subdued borrowing costs helped buoy the US real estate market.


Commercial mortgage-backed securities, known as CMBS, was not one of the worst corners of the global securitization machine that stoked the financial crisis, but many of these bonds still plunged in value when the credit crunch began to bite, and defaults climbed steadily in the wake of the crisis. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.


But the number and value of defaults on loans underpinning US CMBS — typically shopping malls, hotels or offices — have declined steadily since the 2010 peak, and last year fell to just $3.9bn, down 28 per cent from 2013, according to research from Fitch Ratings. As a percentage of the total outstanding, the annual default rate slipped from 0.9 per cent in 2013 to 0.6 per cent last year — the lowest since 2008, according to the rating agency’s annual report on the US CMBS market, out on Monday. Issuance has also picked up, and is on track to hit $110bn this year, up from $90bn in 2014, according to Barclays.


The improvement has been driven by the US commercial property recovery, as tumbling borrowing costs and a search for yield has reinvigorated the recession-struck sector. Prices are now back above the pre-crisis peak, outpacing the recovery in residential real estate. “We’ve seen an improvement across the board,” said Aaron Haan, a strategist at Barclays. “The economic recovery, helped by low interest rates, has helped keep new delinquencies down.”

US CMBS returned 1.82 per cent this year, slightly outpacing the performance of the overall Barclays Aggregate index of US bonds, as investors continue to prowl bond markets for securities that offer higher yields than on offer in government debt or high-grade corporate bonds. Fitch Ratings noted some headwinds on the horizon, especially a likely rise in interest rates from the Federal Reserve and a “refinance wall” made up of loans first extended in 2005-07.


Although most of these are still current and could be refinanced more cheaply when they come due, faster or bigger than expected Fed rate increases “could prove problematic”, the rating agency noted. The list of CMBS loan defaults is already dominated by those in deals structured in 2005-07 — the peak of the pre-crisis credit bubble, when lending standards fell to their nadir. These “vintages” account for almost 90 per cent of all the CMBS loan defaults tallied by the rating agency.


Mr Haan predicted a “modest” increase in the number of CMBS loan defaults next year and in 2017, as some of the more aggressive, leveraged deals structured at the peak of the bubble come due for repayment. “It’s certainly a concern,” he said. The debts of “lower tier” regional malls proved particularly weak last year, with the value of commercial retail loan defaults climbing by more than a fifth to $1.7bn, or almost half of all delinquent CMBS loans in 2014, according to Fitch.