ANALYSIS: WHITE HOUSE DERIVATIVES TAX PROPOSAL PUTS WALL STREET IN THE CROSSHAIRS
The Obama administration yesterday proposed that derivatives be taxed under "mark-to-market" accounting rules on an annual basis, a move that takes aim at Wall Street and could give a lift to a similar plan circulated by House Republicans, the Wall Street Journal reported today. "The disparate treatment of derivatives under current tax rules, which have evolved sporadically over more than 50 years, has created a regime that is essentially elective," the Treasury Department wrote in its companion piece to the budget that contains more detail about tax proposals. "Sophisticated taxpayers can use these instruments to achieve the timing and character that meets their objectives. At the same time, the wide variance in the tax treatment of derivatives contracts that are economically similar leads to uncertainty about how the tax rules apply." The plan would raise about $18.9 billion over 10 years. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has circulated a similar proposal. The main difference between the two plans is that Treasury's plan would be tied to whether or not derivatives were being actively traded in the market. The new treatment would apply to derivatives contracts entered into after Dec. 31, 2013. Read more. (Subscription required.)
A related New York Times editorial yesterday looked at several bills to pre-empt the regulation of derivatives that are the focus of a hearing today in the House Financial Services Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee. The bills, which have already passed the Agriculture Committee, should be stopped to curb reckless risk-taking by banks, according to the editorial. As it turns out, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) could be the member of Congress to stop them. Hensarling recently outlined a free-enterprise approach to bank regulation that sensibly supported "greater capital and liquidity standards" and better "ring-fencing, fire-walling — whatever metaphor you want to use — between an insured depository institution and a noninsured investment bank." One of the bills before his committee would do the opposite of what he envisions. It would gut a provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that effectively requires banks to spin off their riskiest derivatives transactions into separately capitalized uninsured subsidiaries, according to the editorial. The spinoff provision, which is being phased in this year, is important for shielding taxpayers from future bailouts. Read more.
To view the witness list and prepared testimony for today's House Financial Services Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee hearing titled, "Legislative Proposals Regarding Derivatives and SEC Economic Analysis," please click here.
COMMENTARY: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE CHAPTER 14 PROPOSAL
While not a proponent of Dodd-Frank's orderly liquidation authority, Prof. Stephen Lubben of Seton Hall University Law School writes in the New York Times DealBook blog today why he opposes the "Chapter 14" proposal put forth by the Hoover Institute group at Stanford. First, Lubben writes that the chapter 14 proposal throws away most of the benefits of using the existing bankruptcy system by calling for cases to be heard by Federal District Court judges. Next, the chapter 14 proposal has an ill-conceived financing mechanism, according to Lubben, as it is based on the assumption that private debtor-in-possession financing will be available in times of financial distress, especially in the size a large financial institution would need. But the even bigger problem with chapter 14, which has gotten little coverage, is its effort to penalize the provider of DIP financing if the new financing is used to "overpay" creditors. For example, if a counterparty received a 50 percent upfront recovery made possible by the debtor-in-possession financing, and unsecured creditors later received only 35 percent in the chapter 14 case, the proposal would subordinate the debtor-in-possession lenders’ claim by that extra 15 percent. That pretty much kills off any chance of private debtor-in-possession financing, and even raises some serious doubts about future government debtor-in-possession financing too, according to Lubben. Read the full commentary.
HOUSING ADMINISTRATION MIGHT NEED $943 MILLION BAILOUT, ACCORDING TO WHITE HOUSE
The Obama administration said yesterday that the cash-strapped Federal Housing Administration will probably require a $943 million taxpayer bailout to cover expected losses on loans it insured as the U.S. housing bubble was deflating, Reuters reported yesterday. It would be the first bailout of the government's mortgage insurer in its nearly 80-year history. The White House estimated that the FHA has about $30 billion on hand but said its cash reserves would probably be depleted by souring loans. FHA Commissioner Carol Galante said that the agency might still be able to avoid taking aid from the U.S. Treasury, despite the financial hole projected in President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal. It has until Sept. 30 to decide whether it needs a cash infusion. In November, an independent audit found that the FHA faced a projected deficit of $16.3 billion. Since then, the agency has taken steps to shore up its finances, including raising the premiums that borrowers pay. Read more.
BANKS LOOK TO SHIFT RISK TO FUNDS
Banks are trying to boost their capital cushions by shifting risk to investment funds, even as global regulators threaten to clamp down on such transactions, the Wall Street Journal reported today. In recent weeks, Citigroup Inc., Switzerland's Credit Suisse AG and France's Société Générale SA have marketed "synthetic securitizations" in which investors, for a fee, agree to absorb future losses on portfolios of assets. The transactions are designed to thicken the banks' capital buffers by reducing the riskiness of their balance sheets. Citigroup wants to cap its exposure to shipping loans, Credit Suisse wants to curtail the risk of small Swiss businesses defaulting on loans, and Société Générale is aiming to reduce the credit risk in a derivatives portfolio. Read more. (Subscription required.)
LATEST BLOOMBERG "BILL ON BANKRUPTCY" VIDEO: RESCAP REPORT, A BARGAIN AT $83 MILLION
Why the Residential Capital LLC examiner's report will cost almost $83 million is the first item on the new Bloomberg bankruptcy video with Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia and Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle. Click here to watch the video.
ASM MOBILE WEB APP NOW AVAILABLE FOR SMARTPHONES AND TABLETS!
The official Annual Spring Meeting mobile web app, sponsored by Diamond McCarthy LLP, is now available for iOS, Android and Blackberry devices! Utilize the app during ASM next week to view your personal schedule, browse what programs are taking place or to search for information related to the meeting. The mobile web app stores the schedule data locally on your phone for offline access too.
Haven’t registered for next week’s Annual Spring Meeting? Hurry, the hotel block at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., is almost sold out! ASM 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
• 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
• 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!
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: TEED V. THOMAS & BETTS POWER SOLUTIONS LLC (7TH CIR.)
Summarized by Steven Schwartz of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware
The Seventh Circuit ruled that successor liability is appropriate in suits to enforce federal labor or employment laws – even when the successor disclaimed liability when it acquired the assets, unless there is a good reason to withhold such liability (i.e., lack of notice of potential liability, maintaining priorities of competing creditors). Increasing the cost to the buyer is not a good reason to withhold successor-liability suits in federal labor or employment law cases.
There are more than 800 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: FIRST QUARTER 2013 U.S. LEVERAGED LOAN MARKET ANALYSIS
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post provides an analysis of the leveraged loan market during the first quarter of 2013.
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.
TEE OFF ON THE NEW ABI GOLF TOUR!
Starting with the Annual Spring Meeting, ABI will offer conference registrants the option to participate in the ABI Golf Tour. The Tour will take place concurrently with all conference golf tournaments. The Tour is designed to enhance the golfing experience for serious golfers, while still offering a fun networking opportunity for players of any ability. As opposed to the format used at ABI’s regular conference events, Tour participants will "play their own ball." They will be grouped on the golf course separately from other conference golf participants and will typically play ahead of the other participants, expediting Tour play. Tour participants will be randomly grouped in foursomes, unless otherwise requested of the Commissioner in advance of each tournament. Prizes will be awarded for each individual Tour event, which are sponsored by Great American Group. The grand prize is the "Great American Cup," also sponsored by Great American Group, which will be awarded to the top player at the end of the Tour season. Registration is free. Click here for more information and a list of 2013 ABI Golf Tour event venues.
ABI Quick Poll
The scope of protection of "financial contracts" in bankruptcy should be rolled back to what it was before BAPCPA expanded it in 2005.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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