NEWS AND ANALYSIS
COMMENTARY: ALLOW PRIVATE EDUCATION LOAN DEBTS TO BE ERASED IN BANKRUPTCY
As total student loan debt exceeded $1 trillion in 2012, debt from student loans issued by private for-profit lenders is still not eligible to be discharged under the Bankruptcy Code, according to a commentary by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) in yesterday's edition of U.S. News & World Report. Private for-profit student loans often lack consumer protections and typically have variable interest rates with no caps, exorbitant fees, and hidden charges, according to Cohen. Private lenders do not deserve protection under the Bankruptcy Code because the "undue hardship" provision, first enacted in 1976, was intended to protect the taxpayer dollars that fund federal student loan programs, according to Cohen. "Yet Congress, in 2005, extended this protection to for-profit educational lenders, even though no taxpayer money was at stake," Cohen writes. He introduced H.R. 2028, the "Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act," which would allow private education loan debts to once again be erased in bankruptcy just like other types of debts. "By restoring bankruptcy dischargeability, my legislation will ensure that lenders only make prudent loans and will encourage private lenders to work with financially distressed borrowers to modify loan terms," according to Cohen. Read the full commentary.
ANALYSIS: DO OR DIE FOR FOUR RETAILERS
While 2013 will be a tough year for retailers due to the tepid economic recovery, Best Buy, J.C. Penney, RadioShack and Sears face a critical 12 months, the Wall Street Journal reported today. These unlucky retailers are going into the New Year with extra woes: slipping sales, questionable strategies and tight finances. Best Buy Co. has been plagued by the retail phenomenon called "showrooming," where shoppers examine products in its stores but buy online through rivals. J.C. Penney Co. has been trying to shed its image as an old-fashioned department store, but its rapid and radical makeover has left it burning through cash and struggling to attract shoppers. RadioShack Corp.'s bet on mobile phones and tablets has backfired. Sears Holdings Corp.'s sales and profits continue to slide as the department store chain has been shoring up its liquidity by selling itself off in pieces—but some of its remaining assets might be tough to unload at a time when retailing is under pressure. Read more. (Subscription required.)
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE DECREASES IN DECEMBER
Confidence among U.S. consumers declined more than forecast in December as the budget debate in Washington, D.C., soured Americans' outlook on the economy, Bloomberg News reported today. The Conference Board's index of sentiment fell to 65.1 from a revised 71.5 reading the prior month, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. A drop in consumer expectations for the next six months to a one-year low coincides with mounting concerns about looming tax increases and government budget cuts in 2013 that threaten expansion. At the same time, employment gains, rising home values, and lower gas prices may keep spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, from foundering. Read more.
SEC GOING HIGH-TECH WITH REAL-TIME TRADE DATA
As computing power and big data have revolutionized stock trading in recent years, the Securities and Exchange Commission is trying to catch up, the Washington Post reported today. This month, the agency is in the final phases of testing software that will stream real-time trade data into its headquarters, helping regulators better grasp the market’s plumbing. The technology should go live in early 2013, at a cost of $2.5 million for the year. The SEC is still coping with the public fallout from the “flash crash” that took place on May 6, 2010, when the stock market plunged nearly 1,000 points in minutes then whipsawed back up. It took the SEC about four months to unwind the billions of orders that took place that day and issue a report of what happened. Although the SEC started collecting the data in June 2010, it could not aggregate them into a single database for analysis until three months later. The incident made the wide gulf in technical prowess between the regulators and the regulated painfully clear, prompting the SEC to explore hiring an outside firm that could gather up-to-the-minute market feeds from the public exchanges. Read more.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: IN RE SPANSION INC. (3D CIR.)
Summarized by Eduardo Glas of McCarter & English, LLP
The Third Circuit ruled that an agreement that settled litigation between Spansion and Apple at the International Trade Commision pursuant to which the debtor agreed not to sue Apple in the future over the use of flash memory products was a license, and its rejection by the debtor pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 365 permitted Apple to elect to retain its rights as licensee under 11 U.S.C. § 365(n).
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: CALPERS SLAMS SAN BERNARDINO BANKRUPTCY AS "SHAM"
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog discusses CalPERS firing back at the city of San Bernardino and its pendency plan for operating during the Chapter 9 case, calling it “criminal” and a “sham.” Since filing for bankruptcy, the city has stopped making its biweekly payments to CalPERS. As a result, San Bernardino now owes CalPERS approximately $8 million.
For more on the San Bernardino case and chapter 9 issues, make sure to order a copy of ABI's latest publication, Municipalities in Peril: The ABI Guide to Chapter 9, Second Edition, now available for pre-order in ABI's Bookstore.
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
A licensee of a trademark has the right to retain the license even when a debtor rejects the underlying contract creating the license. (Sunbeam Products, 7th Cir.)
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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