ANALYSIS: BETTER LENDING STANDARDS HELPING TO REDUCE FORECLOSURE STARTS
While numerous foreclosure prevention efforts at the national, state and local levels, along with rising home values, have helped drop U.S. foreclosure starts to a six-year low in January, the fundamental factor driving the reduction is better lending practices, according to a Forbes.com commentary yesterday. More than 5 percent of still-active loans originated in 2006 were in some stage of foreclosure as of the fourth quarter of 2012 -- the highest foreclosure rate of any year going back to 2000. That was followed by 2007 vintage loans with a 4.75 percent foreclosure rate, 2005 vintage loans with a 3.52 percent foreclosure rate, and 2008 vintage loans with a 2.95 percent foreclosure rate. The only other loan vintage with a foreclosure rate above 2 percent was 2004, with a 2.16 percent foreclosure rate. The foreclosure rate on 2009 vintage loans dropped to 1.11 percent, and the foreclosure rate has steadily decreased on loans originated in the three years since -- all of which have foreclosure rates below 1 percent. Read more.
COMMENTARY: THE SECOND-MORTGAGE SHELL GAME
Though the federal government and 49 state attorneys general reached a $25 billion deal last February with the country's five largest mortgage servicers (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial), it is now clear that the settlement has not worked as planned, according to a commentary in yesterday's New York Times. Banks have dragged their feet on modifying first mortgages, much less agreeing to forgive part of the principal on homes that are underwater. A lesser-known but equally grave problem is that banks have been given a backdoor mechanism to continue foreclosures at the same pace as before. The problem involves second mortgages, which millions of homeowners took out during the housing bubble. It is estimated that as much as a quarter of all mortgage debt in the U.S. is in the form of second mortgages. Some of these loans were taken out to finance home improvements, others were part of a subprime product known as an "80/20 mortgage," in which 80 percent of the purchase price was covered by a first, adjustable-rate mortgage, and the remainder by a second mortgage, often with a much higher interest rate. The second mortgages have given the banks a loophole: each dollar a bank forgives goes toward fulfilling its obligation under last year’s settlement. But many lenders have made it a point to almost exclusively modify secondary loans while all but ignoring the troubled, primary mortgages, according to the commentary. Read the full commentary.
SHIFTING STRATEGY, PROSECUTORS BUILD NEW CASES AGAINST BIG BANKS
Criticized for letting Wall Street off the hook after the financial crisis, the Justice Department is building a new model for prosecuting big banks, the New York Times DealBook Blog reported today. In a recent round of actions that shook the financial industry, the government pushed for guilty pleas, rather than just the usual fines and reforms. Prosecutors now aim to apply the approach broadly to financial fraud cases, according to officials involved in the investigations. So far, the Justice Department has extracted guilty pleas only from remote subsidiaries of big foreign banks, a move that has inflicted reputational damage but little else. The new strategy first materialized in recent settlements with UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which were accused of manipulating interest rates to bolster profit. As part of a broader deal, the banks' Japanese subsidiaries pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud. Read more.
ANALYSIS: FISCAL TROUBLE AHEAD FOR MOST FUTURE RETIREES
For the first time since the 1930s, a majority of Americans are headed toward a retirement in which they will be financially worse off than their parents, jeopardizing a long era of improved living standards for the nation’s elderly, the Washington Post reported yesterday. The Great Recession and the weak recovery darkened the retirement picture for significant numbers of Americans. The economic downturn exacerbated long-term factors that were already eroding the financial standing of aging Americans: an inexorable rise in health care costs, growing debt among older Americans and a shift in responsibility from employers to workers to plan for retirement. The consequence is that the nation is facing a huge retirement savings deficit -- as much as $6.6 trillion, or about $57,000 per household, according to a U.S. Senate report. Using data on household finances collected by the Federal Reserve, the Center for Retirement Research estimates that 53 percent of American workers 30 and older are on a path that will leave them unprepared for retirement. That marks a sharp deterioration since 2001, when 38 percent of Americans were at risk of declining living standards in old age. In 1989, 30 percent faced that risk. Read more.
REGULATOR PROBES "DARK POOL" INVESTING
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in late 2012 sent examination letters to about 15 dark-pool operators seeking information such as how the trading systems handle customer orders, what they disclose to clients and whether affiliates of the pool operators have access to client trading information, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. In dark-pool investing, investors post buy-and-sell orders away from the public market. Most of the letters have been returned, and the regulator is evaluating the responses, said John Malitzis, executive vice president of market regulation at FINRA. Unlike stock exchanges, which are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the trading venues in dark pools are not required to regularly tell market regulators details about how they handle orders. Dark pools have become controversial as their share of stock trading has increased. One area of concern is whether certain dark-pool clients get more information than other investors about how the venues operate, giving them an edge, said Malitzis. "We asked a lot of questions about disclosure," he said. "We're trying to get a sense of what firms are doing and how they're doing it." Read more. (Subscription required.)
LIVE STREAM AVAILABLE FOR THURSDAY'S CHAPTER 11 COMMISSION HEARING AT VALCON 2013
For those not able to attend the VALCON 2013 conference starting tomorrow in Las Vegas, there will be a live webstream of Thursday's Chapter 11 Commission field hearing looking at valuation issues. The hearing will take place from 2-4 p.m. PT (5-7 p.m. ET) and will be streamed live at http://commission.abi.org.
JUST ADDED FOR APRIL! ABI LIVE WEBINAR "STUDENT LOANS: BANKRUPTCY MAY NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS - BUT DOES CONGRESS?"
Do not miss the "Student Loans: Bankruptcy May Not Have the Answers - But Does Congress?" webinar presented by ABI's Consumer Bankruptcy Committee on April 10 from noon-1:15 ET. ABI's panel of experts will provide an overview of the student loan industry, examine the numbers behind and causes of student loan debt, and discuss federal loan programs as well as federal consolidation and forgiveness programs. Faculty on the webinar includes:
Prof. Daniel A. Austin of Northeastern University School of Law (Boston)
Edward "Ted" M. King of Frost Brown Todd LLC (Louisville, Ky.)
Craig Zimmerman of the Law Offices of Craig Zimmerman (Santa Ana, Calif.)
CLE credit will be available for the webinar. This webinar is sure to sell out; register now for the special ABI member rate of $75!
EXPLORE CURRENT ISSUES FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS IN BANKRUPTCY CASES AND MORE 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
• Creditors’ Committees and the Role of Indenture Trustees and Related Issues
• 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!
DON'T MISS THE 9TH ANNUAL WHARTON RESTRUCTURING AND DISTRESSED INVESTING CONFERENCE ON FEB. 22!
The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business will be holding the 9th Annual Wharton Restructuring and Distressed Investing Conference on Feb. 22 at the Hyatt at The Bellevue in Philadelphia. The theme of this year's conference is “Health of Nations: Distress, Recovery or Revival?” It will offer a unique opportunity to hear from a distinguished gathering of keynote speakers and panelists in their discussion of the current economic climate and issues of debt, investing, and restructuring across the globe. To register, please click here.
NEW BANKRUPTCY PROFESSIONALS: DON'T MISS THE NUTS AND BOLTS PROGRAM AT ABI'S ANNUAL SPRING MEETING! SPECIAL PRICING IF YOU ARE AN ASM REGISTRANT!
An outstanding faculty of judges and practitioners explains the fundamentals of bankruptcy in a one-day Nuts and Bolts program on April 18 being held in conjunction with ABI's Annual Spring Meeting. Ideal training for junior professionals or those new to this practice area!
The morning session covers concepts all bankruptcy practitioners need to know, and the afternoon session splits into concurrent tracks, focusing on consumer and business issues. The session will include written materials, practice tip sessions with bankruptcy judges, continental breakfast and a reception after the program. Click here to register!
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: BLACK V. BONNIE SPRINGS FAMILY LTD. PARTNERSHIP (IN RE BLACK; 9TH CIR.)
Summarized by Tom Phinney of Parkinson Phinney
The Ninth Circuit BAP affirmed the summary judgment in favor of the creditor, which excepted debts from discharge under § 523(a)(6) based on the preclusive effect of a Nevada state court judgment for abuse of process, nuisance and "oppression."
There are more than 750 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: S CORPORATION MAY NOT PAY SHAREHOLDERS' POST-PETITION TAX OBLIGATIONS
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. Finding that it would violate the absolute priority rule, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina in In re Carolina Internet Ltd. held that an insolvent S corporation may not pay post-petition taxes on behalf of its shareholders because a corporation’s creditors have priority over its shareholders, according to a recent blog post.
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 Quick Poll
As a result of the RadLAX decision, the right to credit-bid will likely chill bidding at auctions, as potential purchasers may be dissuaded from participating in the bidding process.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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