ANALYSIS: FORECLOSURE WAVE AVERTED AS DOOMSAYERS DEFIED
The U.S. has not seen the surge of delinquent homes predicted by market researchers, academics and Wall Street analysts following the settlement of the government's investigation into faulty mortgage practices, Bloomberg News reported today. The flood failed to materialize, even after the five biggest U.S. mortgage servicers reached a $25 billion settlement with federal and state regulators in February. Instead, the number of properties for sale shrank to the fewest in a decade, prices appreciated at the fastest pace since 2005, and the gradual healing of the housing market helped boost consumer confidence and the economy. Banks have stepped up foreclosure alternatives to avoid legal challenges. They are forgiving debt, modifying payment plans and approving short sales that allow homeowners to sell for less than they owe. Read more.
U.S. MORTGAGE-BACKER ROLE GROWS AS FISCAL TALKS DELAY FIX
The federal government's role as the backer of most U.S. home loans is becoming entrenched as fiscal issues divert Congress and the White House from a housing-finance overhaul that would shift more risk to private capital, Bloomberg News reported today. At the core of such an overhaul is the future of Washington, D.C.-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that provide market liquidity by buying home loans and bundling them into securities. As they neared collapse in 2008, the companies were placed into federal conservatorship. "It is vital to the long-term health of our country’s housing and financial markets that our elected leaders seek to bring the conservatorships to a conclusion, and to define the government's role and requirements for housing finance in the future," said Federal Housing Finance Agency acting director Edward J. DeMarco. Housing-finance reform is only “number two or three” on the agenda for Congress, Jim Millstein, the former U.S. Treasury Department chief restructuring officer who now runs advisory firm Millstein & Co., said. "The reality is that a now-four-year-long conservatorship is no longer even threatening to become a nationalization of the mortgage market," said Millstein. "It is becoming the nationalization of the mortgage market." Read more.
DODD-FRANK SWAP-CLEARING RULE GETS CFTC FINAL APPROVAL
Wall Street's largest swap dealers, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., will be required to guarantee trades at clearinghouses starting in March under a rule made final by the top U.S. derivatives regulator, Bloomberg News reported today. The five-member Commodity Futures Trading Commission voted unanimously in a private process yesterday to complete the final determinations, the agency said. The rule, which had been scheduled for a public vote, determines which credit and interest-rate swaps must be guaranteed at clearinghouses owned by LCH.Clearnet Group Ltd., CME Group Inc. and Intercontinental Exchange Inc. "Central clearing lowers the risk of the highly interconnected financial system," CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said. "It also democratizes the market by eliminating the need for market participants to individually determine counterparty credit risk, as now clearinghouses stand between buyers and sellers." Read more.
FINAL VOLCKER RULE TO BE DELAYED UNTIL 2013
Due to the complexity of the Volcker rule, the challenges of agency coordination and the volume of feedback regulators received, government officials are now pointing to the first quarter of 2013 as a more likely deadline over the year-end goal shared previously by participants like Martin Gruenberg, acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., CNBC.com reported yesterday. "Our goal is to achieve a strong and consistent rule, although the process is not as easy or simple as any of us would like," said Treasury Undersecretary Mary Miller. Miller noted that regulators had received more than 18,000 comment letters on the proposed rule, but they were making "steady progress" toward its implementation. The rule, part of the Dodd-Frank Act, aims to restrict banks from making certain speculative investments for their own gain — also known as proprietary trading. Such practices came under harsh scrutiny during the financial crisis when banks made big bets based on the direction of the economy, while advising clients otherwise. Read more.
EXPERTS SAY BANKRUPTCY AN UNATTRACTIVE OPTION FOR DETROIT
While Detroit appears to be headed toward chapter 9 bankruptcy as political and legal battles continue to stall fiscal reforms required by the state for the release of millions in critical bond funding, financial and legal experts warn that the city should avoid bankruptcy, the Detroit News reported today. Experts say that Detroit, which would be the biggest city ever to file for bankruptcy protection in American history, should steel itself for a long, costly process involving a litany of unknowns if the state allows it to proceed with a chapter 9 filing. "The way the laws are now, it's a really messy option," said Kenneth Whipple, a retired businessman and member of the city's Financial Advisory Board created by Gov. Rick Snyder to help monitor Detroit's finances. "There aren't any cities as big as Detroit in as complicated a legal structure that have gone that way." The city and state have been at an impasse over the specific reforms Detroit must meet as part of a "milestone agreement" to claim $30 million in state bond funding that is currently being held in escrow. Detroit needs the funds to get through yet another short-term cash crunch, but the Snyder administration seems unwilling to budge. Read more.
LIVE WEBCASTS AVAILABLE TOMORROW FROM ABI'S WINTER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE!
Not able to attend ABI’s Winter Leadership Conference starting today in Tucson, Ariz.? You will not want to miss two events tomorrow available via live webstream: ABI’s Chapter 11 Commission and a concert by ABI’s Indubitable Equivalents dedicated to Steven Golick.
• At 1:15 p.m. ET (11:15 a.m. MT), ABI's Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 will hold its final public hearing of 2012. Members are encouraged to watch the hearing via a live webstream available at http://commission.abi.org. All materials are part of the Commission's record to be transmitted to Congress following the two-year investigation and report.
• At 11:30 p.m. ET (9:30 pm MT), ABI’s Indubitable Equivalents will perform a concert dedicated to ABI member, leader and band mate, Steven Golick, who has recently undergone successful surgery to remove a brain tumor. Steve will be watching from his home in Toronto. Watch the concert live at www.abiband.com.
RICHMOND BAR CALLING FOR NOMINATIONS TO FILL JUDICIAL VACANCY; SUBMISSIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY DEC. 13
The Judiciary Committee of the Richmond (Va.) Bar Association invites ABI members to submit nominations to fill a judicial vacancy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond. The court is looking to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Bankruptcy Judge Douglas O. Tice, Jr. Suggestions must be in writing and should be mailed to Virginia H. Grigg, Esq., c/o Richmond Bar Association, P.O. Box 1213, Richmond, Virginia 23218 or hand-delivered to her at the Bar office located at 707 E. Main Street, Suite 1620, Richmond, VA 23219. Nominations must be received by 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 13, 2012 in order to be considered.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: KEYSER V. WASATCH TOWERS CONDOMINIUM OWNERS ASSOCIATION INC. (IN RE KEYSER; 10TH CIR.)
Summarized by Brendan Gage of St. John's University School of Law
Affirming the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, the Tenth Circuit dismissed an appeal by debtor Steven Keyser for lack of jurisdiction because his notice of appeal was untimely under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8002(a).
There are over 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: COURT DECISION SPELLS WIN FOR VITRO BONDHOLDERS
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post examines a U.S. appellate court decision yesterday that upheld a bankruptcy court decision to reject Mexican glassmaker's Vitro SAB’s controversial bankruptcy plan. The decision represented a win for bondholders that have been sparring with the company for years over its debt restructuring plan.
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.
LATEST BLOOMBERG LAW VIDEO: BILL ON BANKRUPTCY- PATRIOT COAL CASE KICKED FROM MANHATTAN TO ST. LOUIS
The decision sending the Patriot Coal Corp. reorganization to St. Louis will focus debate on the near impossibility of convincing a judge in New York or Delaware to send a bankruptcy somewhere else, as Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia and Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle discuss on their new video. Click here to watch.
ABI Quick Poll
Despite the "free and clear" language of Sect. 363(f), purchasers of assets in 363 sales may still be liable for injuries to unidentifiable future claimants. (In re Grumman Olson Indus, S.D.N.Y.).
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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LIVE WEBCASTS AVAILABLE TOMORROW FROM ABI'S WINTER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE:
• ABI's Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 public hearing at 1:15 p.m. ET (11:15 a.m. MT). Click here to access.
• ABI’s Indubitable Equivalents concert dedicated to ABI member, leader and band mate, Steven Golick at 11:30 p.m. ET (9:30 pm MT). Click here to access.