CONSUMER REGULATOR, FINANCIAL STABILITY COUNCIL LIKELY TARGETS OF SENATE REPUBLICANS
Two institutions created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law are likely to be targets of a Republican-controlled Senate: the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), expected to become chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is likely to push for greater transparency of the FSOC, a group of regulators tasked with addressing risks to the financial system. Republican lawmakers have said they believe the panel's deliberations are opaque and have criticized its membership for including more representatives from banking regulators like the Fed than from agencies that regulate markets. Shelby and other Republicans are also expected to aggressively scrutinize the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the regulator created by Dodd-Frank to police the financial system for consumer abuses. GOP lawmakers have long pushed unsuccessfully to roll back the regulator's powers by subjecting the bureau's budget to congressional approval, establishing a five-member commission instead of a sole director and making it easier for a council of regulators to overturn the bureau's regulations. Most analysts, however, say that the bureau is likely to emerge unscathed as the CFPB's creation is one of President Barack Obama's signal achievements and the White House is likely to veto measures that would curtail its authority. Read more. (Subscription required.)
In related news, lobbyists interviewed by Bloomberg News today said that it would be unrealistic to push for major changes like a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act, even with a Republican-led Congress sympathetic to financial firms' anti-regulation bent. Instead, goals include ending the procession of hearings on breaking up banks, weighing in on the next attorney general and pushing members of Congress to put regulators under the microscope. Legislatively, lenders have put together a wish list that features rolling back swaps rules and watering down restrictions on proprietary trading. They would be tough fights as President Barack Obama will seek to protect his legacy of cracking down on banks and has veto power over any bills. One provision that finance lobbyists say they have some chance of killing is a Dodd-Frank requirement that derivative trades be separated from banking units that benefit from federal backstops. Last year, 70 House Democrats joined Republicans to pass legislation that would repeal the regulation known as the swaps push-out. The measure hasn't gone anywhere in the Senate. Read more.
U.S. JUSTICES WRESTLE OVER HOMEOWNERS' BID TO RESCIND MORTGAGE
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared conflicted on how to decide which process struggling homeowners need to follow if they want to back out of mortgages from lenders they accuse of failing to follow a federal "truth in lending" law, Reuters reported yesterday. The nine justices are weighing an appeal filed by an Eagan, Minn. couple, Larry and Cheryle Jesinoski, over the $611,000 loan they obtained in 2007 from Countrywide Home Loans Inc., now part of Bank of America Corp. In a one-hour oral argument, the court weighed whether homeowners need to write a letter to their lender or file a lawsuit in order to benefit from a provision of a federal law known as the Truth in Lending Act. The law allows consumers to rescind a mortgage for up to three years after it was made if the lender does not notify them of various details about the loan including finance charges and interest rates. The Jesinoskis filed their notice right before the end of the three-year period and filed a lawsuit a year later after the bank said that it was disputing their claim. The provision is typically used by homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Lawyers for consumers say mortgage companies routinely violated the law in the years prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Lenders contend that notice is not enough if the bank in question disputes the homeowners' claim. Appeals courts are split over what homeowners have to do to trigger this rescission process in large part because the law is unclear. Read more.
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FEDS CRACKING DOWN ON DEBT COLLECTORS THAT EXPLOIT ELDERLY
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said yesterday that it is looking to stop debt collectors from harassing older Americans for money they do not owe, The Hill reported today. Debt collection is one of the biggest issues facing people who have retired, according to a new survey from the CFPB. In many cases, the elderly report being hounded for medical debt and money owed by deceased family members. "It is increasingly common for older Americans to carry debts into their retirement years, and consumers living on fixed incomes often struggle to pay off these debts," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. "Older Americans deserve to be treated with the respect they have earned." The CFPB estimates that about 30 million people in the U.S. have an average of $1,400 in debt that is subject to collection. This is one of the biggest concerns for elderly people, many of whom live on fixed incomes during retirement. Some elderly people even report debt collectors threatening to block their Social Security payments and veterans benefits until they pay off their debts. Read more.
NEW YORK REGULATOR WANTS GREATER USE OF BANK MONITORS
New York state's top financial regulator plans to expand his scrutiny of banks and other firms using a tool previously reserved for companies that were in legal trouble, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Benjamin Lawsky, New York's superintendent of financial services, said that he is looking to expand the use of independent monitors at firms as a way to prevent bad behavior. Such compliance specialists are in place as part of settlements of legal cases covering issues as varied as allegations of U.S. sanctions violations and mortgage-servicing abuses. Lawsky said he has found the outside experts to be very effective at ensuring that financial institutions comply with the terms of their settlements and at probing deeply into complex financial matters. Now, he says he is eager to deploy them for routine examinations at the largest firms he regulates. The expanded use of monitors could raise concerns in an industry that says it is highly regulated already. The biggest U.S. banks have 100 or more on-site examiners from an array of regulators, including the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Lawsky's office regulates nearly 1,900 financial institutions with assets of more than $2.9 trillion. While it doesn't supervise the largest U.S. banks, which are generally overseen by federal regulators, a few big banks are chartered in the state, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Read more. (Subscription required.)
LATEST ABI PODCAST EXAMINES SECT. 547 AND ITS EFFECT ON TRADE CREDITORS
ABI Resident Scholar Lois Lupica talks with Dale Matschullat, chairman of International Housewares Association's (IHA) Government Affairs Committee, and Bruce Kaminstein, CEO of Casabella Holdings LLC, about their perspectives on preference law under § 547. Matschullat and Kaminstein talk about IHA's proposal for § 547 to be changed to shift the burden of proof to the trustee, rather than creditors, that a payment is not a preference. Click here to listen.
NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: BEST OF ABI 2014 BOOK BUNDLE
Now available for pre-order in the ABI Bookstore is the Best of ABI 2014 book bundle containing The Year in Business Bankruptcy and The Year in Consumer Bankruptcy. These must-have references contain the best ABI Journal articles and papers from ABI's top-rated educational seminars, with Spring 2014 ABI Resident Scholar Prof. Charles Tabb selecting the most important developments in business bankruptcy and Fall 2014 ABI Resident Scholar Prof. Lois Lupica choosing important consumer bankruptcy developments. Make sure to log in to the site to get your discounted ABI member pricing. The ABI member price for each book is $50, but take advantage of this bundle offer and save even more! The books will ship in early December. Click here to order.
NEXT FREE COMMITTEE TELECONFERENCE WILL BE WEDNESDAY'S ASSET SALES COMMITTEE CALL ON CHAPTER 11 COMMISSION PROPOSAL!
Members are encouraged to dial-in and listen to or participate on upcoming ABI Committee conference calls. While committee membership is encouraged, it is not required to join the free teleconferences. Upcoming committee teleconferences include:
- Asset Sales Committee: Wednesday, Nov. 12; 4 p.m. ET
Topic: "Chapter 11 Reform Commission's Consideration of a Proposal to Surcharge Secured Lenders for 363 Asset Sales"
Speakers: Kathryn A. Coleman of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Gregory A. Bray. Moderator: Risa Wolf-Smith of Holland & Hart LLP.
All committee teleconferences are free to ABI members, and registration is not required. Simply utilize the following dial-in information:
Call in: (712) 432-1500
Participant code: 692933
NEXT ABI LIVE WEBINAR ON NOV. 20 FOCUSES ON PROFESSIONAL FEE CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT
The next abiLIVE webinar will be held on Nov. 20 and will feature a discussion on a case before the Supreme Court that could have a major impact on professional fees for bankruptcy practitioners. In this 75-minute webinar, Thomas J. Salerno of Gordon Silver (Phoenix) and J. Maxwell Tucker of Squire Patton Boggs LLP (Dallas), along with moderator Judge Gregg W. Zive (D. Nev.; Reno, Nevada), will discuss the professional fee issues presented in Baker Botts LLP v. ASARCO LLC, No. 14-103, which was granted certiorari by the Supreme Court on Oct. 2. Click here to register for this important webinar!
ABI MEMBERS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA- DON'T MISS THE SPECIAL TMA EVENT TO BENEFIT THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT ON NOV. 12
ABI members are invited to attend TMA Southern California's special fundraiser to support the Wounded Warrior Project and SoCal veteran support groups on Nov. 12 at the Beverly Hilton. Funds raised will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans Legal Institute and the Public Law Center. For more information or to attend, please click here.
ABI MEMBERS INVITED TO ATTEND RETIREMENT DINNER FOR BANKRUPTCY JUDGE PETER J. WALSH ON NOV. 19
ABI members are invited to a special retirement dinner on Nov. 19 honoring the Hon. Peter J. Walsh's 50 years of dedicated service to the bench and bar. The event will be held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Del., and is being hosted by the Bankruptcy Section of the Delaware State Bar Association and the Delaware Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Questions should be directed to Karen B. Owens at 302-654-1888. To attend, please go to https://sites-pepperhamilton.vuturevx.com/107/772/uploads/judge-walsh-retirement-dinner-form.pdf
ABI MEMBERS WELCOME TO ATTEND TRIBUTE DINNER ON DEC. 11 TO HONOR BANKRUPTCY JUDGE STEVEN W. RHODES
ABI members are invited to attend a tribute dinner honoring the 29 years of service of Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for his commitment to the bench, bar and community. The Tribute Dinner will be held at the Roostertail on the Detroit River and is being hosted by the Bankruptcy Community to honor and celebrate Judge Rhodes' service and career. Please contact David Lerner at (248) 901-4010 for more information. To attend, please go to http://www.cbadetroit.com/events/Judge-Rhodes-USBC-Invite-and-Form.pdf
NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: BUSTOS V. MOLASKY (IN RE MOLASKY; 9TH CIR.)
Summarized by Bruce Weiner of Rosenberg, Musso & Weiner
The Ninth Circuit BAP affirmed the decision of the bankruptcy court dismissing the complaint of intervening plaintiff Bustos after the complaint of the original plaintiff was dismissed by the court. The BAP found that Bustos was a permissive intervenor and not an intervenor of right because he could not satisfy all of the criteria for an intervenor of right set forth in League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Wilson, 131 F.3d 1297, 1302 (9th Cir 1997). The original plaintiff was Bustos's legal representative, so that criteria was not met. Consequently, because Bustos failed to file his own complaint before the deadline for filing objections to discharge of a debt, he had no independent right to maintain an action and his complaint was properly dismissed by the bankruptcy court.
There are more than 1,500 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: PARALLELS BETWEEN GENERAL ELECTIONS AND BANKRUPTCY PLAN VOTING
A recent blog post looks at the similarities between general elections and bankruptcy plan voting and finds that, in the bankruptcy context, the same types of questions that confront potential voters in general elections are faced by creditors deciding whether to vote on a 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.
ABI Quick Poll
A single set of mandatory, uniform federal bankruptcy exemptions should be adopted.
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