FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC TO ALLOW ON-TIME BORROWERS TO WALK
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will let some borrowers who kept up mortgage payments as their homes lost value to erase their debts by giving up the properties, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. Non-delinquent borrowers with illnesses, job changes or other reasons will become eligible in March to apply for a so-called deed-in-lieu transaction that erases the shortfall between a property’s value and the size of its mortgage. It follows a change in November that lets on-time borrowers sell properties for less than they owe, known as short sales, wiping out the remaining mortgage debt. While these changes will help some Americans escape underwater loans, it will further add to the losses at the mortgage giants previously bailed out with $190 billion of taxpayer money. Read more.
ANALYSIS: THOUGH ENCOURAGING, HOUSING FIGURES NOT NECESSARILY POINTING TO NEW BOOM
Though some commentators are beginning to say that the U.S. has reached a major turning point in the housing market, there is too much uncertainty to justify any aggressive speculative moves by homeowners right now, according to a New York Times analysis by Yale Prof. Robert Shiller, co-founder of the S.&P./Case-Shiller 20-City home price index. On the one hand, there were sharp price increases in 2012, with the S.&P./Case-Shiller 20-City Index up a total of 9 percent over the six months from March to September. That comes after what was generally a decline in prices for five consecutive years. And while prices dropped very slightly in October, the trend was quite encouraging for the market. But some of these changes were seasonal as home prices have tended to rise every midyear and to fall slightly every fall and winter, according to Shiller. After screening out these effects, a number of indicators are up, including data for housing starts and permits as well as the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Index of traffic of prospective homebuyers, which has made a spectacular rebound since last spring. However, nothing drastically different occurred in the economy from March to September, according to Shiller. Last spring, Shiller, along with Karl Case of Wellesley College and Anne Thompson of McGraw-Hill Construction, conducted a detailed survey of the attitudes of recent home buyers in four American cities, but did not detect any evidence of increased optimism. Read more.
Fair Isaac Corp. said that delinquency rates on U.S. student loans made in the past two years stand at 15 percent as recent graduates struggle to find jobs, Bloomberg News reported today. The rate for 2010 through 2012 compares with 12.4 percent for loans made from 2005 to 2007, Fair Isaac’s FICO Labs said today, citing data from October. Average student-loan debt last year rose to $27,253 from $17,233 in 2005, and almost 60 percent of bank managers surveyed in December expect delinquencies to worsen in six months, FICO said. Student loans are the largest source of unsecured consumer debt in the U.S., according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the rise in unpaid loans has spurred speculation about a possible bubble. With college costs climbing faster than the rate of inflation over the past four decades, outstanding education debt has swelled to $1 trillion, more than the amount Americans collectively owe on their credit cards. Read more.
SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO HELP AMERICANS STRUGGLING WITH MEDICAL DEBT
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) reintroduced legislation yesterday to prohibit companies from using paid off or settled medical debt in assessing consumer credit scores, the Albany Tribune reported today. The Medical Debt Responsibility Act, which is cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), could help as many as 75 million Americans by prohibiting consumer credit agencies from using paid-off or settled medical debt collections in assessing a consumer’s credit-worthiness. In addition, the bill would require the creditor or credit rating agency to expunge the medical debt from the consumer’s record within 45 days from the day it is paid off or settled. Read more.
ANALYSIS: WHY DELEVERAGING STILL RULES MARKETS IN 2013
Though the deleveraging process for both the financial and housing sectors continued in 2012, it has a long way to go to return to the long-run flat trends, according to a Bloomberg News analysis yesterday. The commentary identifies a number of forces that dominate the current investment landscape:
• the deleveraging of private economic sectors and financial institutions;
• the monetary and fiscal responses to the resulting slow growth and financial risks;
• Competitive devaluations;
• the fixation of investors on monetary easing that obscures weak real economic activity; and
• central bank-engineered low interest rates that have spawned more distortions and investor zeal for yield, regardless of risk.
The financial sector began its huge leveraging push in the 1970s as the debt-to-equity ratios of some financial institutions leaped. The household sector followed in the early 1980s, when credit card debt ballooned and mortgage down payments dropped from 20 percent to 10 percent, then to 0 percent. At the height of the housing boom, home-improvement loans added to conventional mortgages pushed debt-to-equity ratios into negative terrritory. The commentary predicts about five more years of deleveraging, bringing the total span to about 10 years, which is about the normal duration of this process after major financial bubbles. Once deleveraging is completed in another five years or so, according to the analysis, long-term trend growth of about 3.5 percent a year will resume. Read more.
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!
LAW FIRM BANKRUPTCIES AMONG TOPICS TO BE EXAMINED 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
• 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!
ABI LIVE WEBINAR: REVISITING RADLAX AND HALL – NEW LEGAL AND PRACTICAL IMPACT OF THE DECISIONS
See why this was the top-rated panel at the ABI Winter Leadership Conference last month! Join the expert panel on Feb. 19 from 12:00-1:15pm EST as the summarize and discuss the legal impact and practical implications of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decisions in Radlax and Hall. Participants include:
• Susan M. Freeman of Lewis and Roca LLP (Phoenix)
• Adam A. Lewis of Morrison & Foerster LLP (San Francisco)
• Prof. Charles J. Tabb of the University of Illinois College of Law (Champaign, Ill.)
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.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: MASSACHUSETTS DEPT. OF UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE V. OPK BIOTECH LLC (IN RE PBBPC INC.; 1ST CIR.)
Summarized by Hale Yazicioglu, Bartlett Hackett Feinberg P.C.
The First Circuit BAP, adopting the expansive definition of “interest” in § 363(f) of the Bankruptcy Code, held that “interest” in § 363(f) includes all obligations that may flow from ownership of property, including the right to tax the purchaser of the debtor’s assets at the same high rate imposed on the debtor. The First Circuit BAP first evaluated its jurisdiction on appeal and found that the bankruptcy court order approving the stipulation entered into between the parties effectively terminated the litigation, and therefore was a final judgment from which the parties could appeal to the BAP.
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: THIRD CIRCUIT REJECTS WAIT-AND-SEE VALUATION APPROACH AND ACCEPTS LIENSTRIPPING IN § 506(a)
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines In re Heritage Highgate, Inc., in which the Third Circuit held that the fair market value of property as of the confirmation date controls whether or not a lien is fully secured. Additionally, the court held that lienstripping is permissible in a chapter 11 reorganization.
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'S INDUBITABLE EQUIVALENTS: TELL US A TUNE AND WE'LL SING YOU THAT SONG!
ABI's Indubitable Equivalents need your help: Tell us your favorite Rock and Roll tune - that elusive classic that takes you back, makes your feet tap, your head bang, and your horns come out! If we pick your song, you get widespread promotion by the band and you'll receive a free CD of IE’s greatest hits!
To enter, log onto www.abiband.com or “like” the Band’s Facebook page.
The fine print: No purchase necessary. You can enter as many times as you want. Multiple winners will be selected. Winners will be announced on the IE website and on Facebook. Entry deadline: January 31.
ABI Quick Poll
After Stern, bankruptcy courts do not have the constitutional authority to enter final judgments on fraudulent conveyance claims.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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