ABI'S CHAPTER 11 COMMISSION EYES UPDATES TO BANKRUPTCY CODE
With the Bankruptcy Code now 35 years old, 2013 looks to be a key year in developing a replacement as ABI's Chapter 11 Commission continues its study of chapter 11 with a "top to bottom look" at the Code, The Deal reported yesterday. No specific changes have been recommended to date, and the Commission will not be close to specifics until it gets reports from all 13 of its advisory committees, according to Commission Co-Chair Al Togut of Togut, Segal & Segal LLP (New York). The commission, which is just looking at corporate chapter 11 and the parts of the code that affect business bankruptcies, expects to complete its report in the spring of 2014, said fellow Co-Chair Bob Keach of Bernstein Shur (Portland, Maine), adding that by the end of 2013 the commission should have a good idea of what the report will look like. The report will have two components: ideas for change where there is a consensus and proposals that lack a consensus. Since the ABI does not lobby Congress for legislation, an organization or a combination of organizations will likely work to convert the report into legislation, said Keach. "The idea is to develop a statute for the next 40 years that will get us through as well as this one did," Keach says. Read more.
PENSION FUNDING GAP WIDENS FOR BIG CITIES
A study released on Tuesday by the the Pew Center on the States found that major U.S. cities emerged from the financial crisis with increasingly underfunded pension and retiree health care plans, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Cities employing nearly half of U.S. municipal workers saw their pension and retiree health care funding levels fall from 79 percent in fiscal year 2007 to 74 percent in fiscal year 2009, according to the latest available data, the Pew report stated. The growing funding gulf, which the study estimated at more than $217 billion for the 61 cities in the study, raises worries about local finances at a time when states are also struggling to recover from the recession. More than half, or some $118 billion, of the projected pension shortfall stems from unfunded retiree health care costs, according to the Pew report. Read more. (Subscription required.)
ABI will be holding a media teleconference on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 11 a.m. ET with experts examining municipal distress in 2013. There are limited spots available to ABI members that would like to join the call next week. Contact John Hartgen, ABI's Public Affairs Manager, at [email protected] if you would like to participate in the teleconference.
CFPB'S NEW MORTGAGE RULES AID HOMEOWNERS
U.S. banks will have to do more to help struggling mortgage borrowers keep their homes under final rules released today by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Wall Street Journal reported today. Mortgage-loan servicers, which collect borrowers' loan payments, will have to evaluate troubled borrowers for all loan-assistance options permitted by mortgage investors such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as private investors, according to the CFPB rules that will take effect in a year. Currently, no national standard exists for how mortgage servicers must treat defaulting borrowers. The lending industry "must consider all options available from the mortgage owners or investors to help the borrower retain the home," said CFPB director Richard Cordray. The industry "can no longer steer borrowers to those options that are most financially favorable for the servicer." The agency's move follows numerous federal and state efforts to regulate the industry, which came under fire after reports in 2010 found that banks were foreclosing on borrowers without properly reviewing documents and other paperwork, a practice dubbed "robo-signing." In 2011, regulators found abuses of foreclosure processes at 14 lenders. Ten of those lenders agreed to an $8.5 billion settlement of regulators' allegations. Read more. (Subscription required.)
ANALYSIS: "ODD COUPLE" IN U.S. HOUSE TO TACKLE MORTGAGE FINANCE
The will of the new Congress to begin rebuilding the U.S. mortgage finance system rests largely in the hands of Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), known to be partisan fighters from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. Hensarling is the new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, while Waters is the highest-ranking Democrat. "While we clearly have profound philosophical differences – some might call us Capitol Hill’s newest odd couple – we are exploring areas of common concern where we hopefully can work together," Hensarling said. In addition to grappling with proposals to tweak and amend the Dodd-Frank regulatory law, they will be seeking common ground on what may be the panel's biggest issue this year: The future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For Hensarling, the solution is to abolish the government-owned mortgage companies and completely privatize the mortgage market. Waters argues that some government involvement is needed to preserve the 30-year fixed home loan. It is likely that the two lawmakers eventually will support a plan that would shrink the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac without threatening to choke off the flow of money into home loans. Read more.
FLORIDA DEFIES HOUSING REBOUND AS FORECLOSURES SOAR
More than six years after subprime lending and overbuilding led to the recent U.S. real estate slump, RealtyTrac Inc. reported that Florida had the biggest increase in home seizures last year, and the highest foreclosure rate, Bloomberg News reported today. One in every 32 Florida households received a notice of default, auction or repossession in 2012, more than double the average U.S. rate of one in every 72, according to RealtyTrac Inc.'s report. Home repossessions increased by 16,276 during the year to 84,456, the biggest gain nationwide. Adding to the state’s woes is a backlog of foreclosures caused by a required court review of each case. Judicial supervision of repossessions is slowing Florida’s rebound, in contrast to California and Arizona, so-called nonjudicial states, where lenders send notices to delinquent borrowers and record defaults at the county level without court intervention, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. It took 853 days on average in Florida to complete a foreclosure in the fourth quarter, the third-longest behind New York and New Jersey, RealtyTrac said in today’s report. The U.S. average rose to 414 days from 348 days a year earlier, the most since the data firm began tracking the metric in 2007. Texas had the shortest period at 113 days. Almost 20 percent of outstanding Florida loans were more than 30 days delinquent or in foreclosure in November, the largest share of non-current mortgages in the nation, according to data provider Lender Processing Services. Read more.
ANALYSIS: REWRITING U.S. TAX LAW HAS CONSENSUS WHILE FIX PROVES ELUSIVE
Maintaining a bipartisan consensus in Congress to rewrite the U.S. tax code will be difficult as there is little agreement on what a tax overhaul means and what it is supposed to achieve, according to a Bloomberg News analysis yesterday. Republicans, who control the U.S. House, want lower tax rates and fewer breaks in a simpler system that raises no additional revenue. The Obama administration and many Democrats endorse some of those goals – particularly corporate rate reduction – while viewing a tax rewrite as a way to guarantee more revenue from top earners. That split will challenge lawmakers as they decide whether to rewrite the code as part of budget talks or work on a major tax bill without a fiscal agreement. Compromise remains elusive, though the code is more convoluted -- and therefore, ripe for change -- following passage of a law Jan. 1 that raised marginal rates and reinstated limits on personal exemptions and deductions. Read more.
BLOOMBERG'S LATEST "BILL ON BANKRUPTCY" VIDEO: MF GLOBAL CREDITORS UNDETERRED BY LOW VALUE
The low valuation creditors of MF Global Holding Ltd. put on their liquidating chapter 11 plan is not deterring the bond market where debt is being sold for roughly twice the predicted recovery for unsecured creditors of the liquidating commodity broker's holding company. Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia and Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle explore this and other current cases in their latest video. Click here to view.
TAKE AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT CREDITORS' COMMITTEES AND THE ROLE OF THE INDENTURE TRUSTEES AT ABI'S 31ST ANNUAL SPRING MEETING
The 2013 Annual Spring Meeting, to be held April 18-21, 2013, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., features a roster of the best national speakers, while the depth and scope of topics offer something for everyone. Specifically, four concurrent workshops will cover various “tracks,” including programs for attorneys in commercial cases, a track for restructuring professionals, a track of professional development programming and a track dealing solely with consumer issues. More than 16 hours of CLE/CPE is offered in some states, along with ethics credit totaling 3 hours, making the cost only about $50 per credit. In addition, committee sessions will drill down on other topics to provide you with the most practical and varied CLE/CPE experience ever. Sessions include:
• 17th Annual Great Debates
• Mediation: An Irrational Approach to a Rational Result
• Current Issues for Financial Advisors in Bankruptcy Cases
• The Individual Conundrum: Chapter 7, 11 or 13?
• The Power to Veto Bankruptcy Sales
• Real Estate Issues in Health Care Restructurings
• Law Firm Bankruptcies
• How to Be a Successful Expert
• The Ethical Compass: Multiple Ethical Schemes Applicable to Financial Advisors
• Chapter 9s, Nonprofits and Other Nontraditional Restructuring Processes
• And much more!
The Spring Meeting will also feature a field hearing of the ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11, a report from the ABI Ethics Task Force, a luncheon panel discussion moderated by Bill Rochelle of Bloomberg News, and a Final Night Gala Dinner featuring a concert by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts!
ABI LIVE WEBINAR: REVISITING RADLAX AND HALL – NEW LEGAL AND PRACTICAL IMPACT OF THE DECISIONS
See why this was the top-rated panel at the ABI Winter Leadership Conference last month! Join the expert panel on Feb. 19 from 12:00-1:15pm EST as the summarize and discuss the legal impact and practical implications of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decisions in Radlax and Hall. Participants include:
• Susan M. Freeman of Lewis and Roca LLP (Phoenix)
• Adam A. Lewis of Morrison & Foerster LLP (San Francisco)
• Prof. Charles J. Tabb of the University of Illinois College of Law (Champaign, Ill.)
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: TIMCO LLC V. T AND M SALES AGENCY INC. (IN RE TIMCO LLC; 6TH CIR.)
Summarized by James E. Bailey III of Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada PLLC
The Sixth Circuit ruled that the appeal of the bankruptcy court's decision to remand a case removed by state court action to confirm an arbitration award that was affirmed by a district court was not reviewable by the court of appeals under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(d). The appeal of the order granting relief from the automatic stay to allow the state court action to proceed was moot where the debtor failed to obtain stay pending appeal and the state court had entered a valid order confirming an arbitration award.
There are more than 700 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: HIGH-INCOME EARNERS NOT BARRED FROM PASSING BANKRUPTCY'S MEANS TEST
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A new post discusses the misconception that bankruptcy's means test bars high-income earners from qualifying for chapter 7 relief.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI'S INDUBITABLE EQUIVALENTS: TELL US A TUNE AND WE'LL SING YOU THAT SONG!
ABI's Indubitable Equivalents need your help: Tell us your favorite Rock and Roll tune - that elusive classic that takes you back, makes your feet tap, your head bang, and your horns come out! If we pick your song, you get widespread promotion by the band and you'll receive a free CD of IE’s greatest hits!
To enter, log onto www.abiband.com or “like” the Band’s Facebook page.
The fine print: No purchase necessary. You can enter as many times as you want. Multiple winners will be selected. Winners will be announced on the IE website and on Facebook. Entry deadline: January 31.
ABI Quick Poll
After Stern, bankruptcy courts do not have the constitutional authority to enter final judgments on fraudulent conveyance claims.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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