A top Federal Reserve official yesterday called on Congress to consider capping the size of the nation's financial firms, marking one of the most high-profile challenges to the way Wall Street does business, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. In a Philadelphia speech, Fed governor Daniel Tarullo recommended curbing banks' growth by putting a limit on their nondeposit liabilities, which are sources of funding for operations that go beyond consumer deposits. The idea takes direct aim at the biggest U.S. banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs and Citigroup Inc., all of which rely heavily on such funding. Firms outside of this tier make much greater use of regular deposits. Tarullo, who drives much of bank policy-making at the Fed, is the highest-ranking regulatory official to call for limiting the size of banks. Even though the chance of congressional action depends in part on the outcome of November's election, the concept also fits into a growing chorus from across the political spectrum. Critics have voiced concern that the nation's largest financial institutions are too big to fail and pose too great a risk to the U.S. financial system. Tarullo's suggestion would cap banks' nondeposit liabilitieswhich are usually some form of debt, such as short-term borrowingsat a fixed percentage of the U.S. economy, a number he didn't specify. He also warned that the Fed should block any merger or acquisition this group of big banks attempts to make. If larger banks continue to expand, Tarullo said in Wednesday's speech, the market perception will increase that certain of them are "too big to fail," meaning that the federal government would rescue them rather than risk rocking the financial system. Click here to read the full article.
U.S. MORTGAGE FRAUD INITIATIVE DATA INCLUDED OLDER CASES
The Obama administration announced that a yearlong crackdown on mortgage fraud netted charges against 530 suspects in the year ending Sept. 30. However, the list included cases filed as many as two years before U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the initiative began, Bloomberg News reported today. Holder said at a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that the initiative ran from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012, and resulted in "285 federal criminal indictments and informations against 530 defendants for allegedly victimizing more than 73,000 American homeownersand inflicting losses in excess of $1 billion." A sampling of cases incorporated in the data Holder cited shows those numbers includes cases filed as early as 2009. Cases filed before the start of the initiative were included because some type of "law enforcement action" occurred during the yearlong period, according to William Carter, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those actions could include indictments, convictions and sentencings, he said. The "Distressed Homeowner Initiative" was spearheaded by the FBI, which began to recognize a sharp increase in fraud aimed at struggling homeowners in the years following the 2008 housing crisis. The information used to compile the results from the initiative came from an FBI survey of the agencies involved in the Mortgage Fraud Working Group. Click here to read the full article.
WHAT TO DO WITH AMERICA'S 14 MILLION VACANT HOMES?
With all the numbers hinting at a housing market recovery, it's a good time to take a look at the challenge of what to do with the millions of homes in America that nobody seems to want, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. As of the end of June, there are just over 132.7 million housing units in America, and 10.6 percent of themmore than 14 millionare vacant year-round. That number includes everything from holiday homes to places in the temporary purgatory between being rented or sold and new occupants moving in. But at one end of that spectrum are nearly 4 million homes that aren't just sitting unsold or unrentedthey're not even on the market. While vacant properties are broadly decreasing in number as more are sold or rented, that final "other" numberplaces simply not on the market and not being used for anythinghas actually increased in the last year. These vacant homes are bad news for all involved, depressing property values around them, falling into disrepair, and often attracting higher crime rates and other social problems. Places where private investors will likely do much of the heavy lifting include areas like Phoenix, where a boom-era oversupply of new homes is gradually being bought up at low prices and turned into rental units. But other towns prone to longer-term decline will need to simply tear buildings down. And for that, land banksgovernment or nonprofit entities that own, manage and dispose of vacant landhave a role to play. Click here to read the full article.
JOBLESS CLAIMS IN U.S. FALL TO FOUR-YEAR LOW
Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, which may reflect difficulty adjusting the data for seasonal swings at the start of a new quarter, Bloomberg News reported today. Applications for jobless benefits dropped 30,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Oct. 6, the fewest since February 2008, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists had forecast 370,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. At the same time, the cooling of the global economy and a lack of clarity on U.S. fiscal policy are acting as hurdles for faster gains in employment. The report "is consistent with a labor market that is gradually getting better," said Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Conn., who had predicted a decline in claims. "Layoffs are at a low level and don't seem to be going anywhere. Hiring is still very muted." Click here to read the full article.
U.S. GROWTH EXPECTED TO BE SLOW INTO 2013
The unemployment rate registered a dramatic 0.5 percentage-point drop over the past two months, but economists don't expect that pace of decline to continue, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing its latest forecasting survey. "The general trend in the unemployment rate is lower, and this should continue to be true as long as the economy grows along the profile we project," said Joseph LaVorgna at Deutsche Bank. "However, the cumulative five-tenths decline over the past two months appears to be overdone." It is expected that the jobless rate will still be at 7.8 percent by June of next year, matching the September figure released last week. The reason for the stagnation in the job market is expectations for lackluster economic growth during the rest of 2012 and into 2013. Economists say they don't see the U.S. falling back into recession and for the most part believe that the economy will grow above 3 percent in 2013. But about two-thirds of the respondents say the risks remain more to the downside than upside. Click here to read the full article.
WATCH COMMISSION HEARING LIVE NEXT WEEK!
ABI's Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, October 17, at the LSTA Annual Conference in New York. The event will be live webcast beginning at 3:15 p.m. ET at the Commission's website (commission.abi.org).
ABI MEMBERS CAN RECEIVE A DISCOUNT ON THEIR PURCHASE OF A DEBTOR WORLD
A Debtor World, published by Oxford University Press, contains a collection of contributions about the societal implications of private debt from top scholars at the 2008 Debt Symposium sponsored by ABI and hosted by the University of Illinois College of Law. The essays comprising this volume are authored by dozens of leading U.S. and international academics who have written about debt or issues related to debt in a wide range of disciplines including law, sociology, psychology, history, economics and more. The collection explores debt as neither a problem nor a solution but as a phenomenon, and promotes the exchange of knowledge to better comprehend why consumers and businesses decide to borrow money. It explores what happens to businesses and consumers under heavy debt loads, and what legal norms and institutions societies need in order to encourage the efficient use of debt while promoting a greater understanding of the global phenomenon of increased indebtedness and societal dependence. To order your copy and receive an ABI member discount, please click here and enter promo code "31256" when making your purchase. The discount expires 12/31.
MEMBERS WILL NOT WANT TO MISS ABI'S PROGRAM AT NCBJ'S ANNUAL MEETING ON OCT. 26
Members planning to attend the 86th Annual NCBJ Annual Conference in San Diego from Oct. 24-27 will not want to miss the exciting line-up scheduled for the ABI program track on Oct. 26. In addition to roundtable discussions on the hottest consumer and business bankruptcy topics, ABI will be hosting a ticketed luncheon that will feature the presentation of the 7th Annual Judge William L. Norton, Jr. Judicial Excellence Award and entertainment by Apollo Robbins, a sleight-of hand artist, security consultant and self-described gentleman thief. Click here to register for the Conference.
To view the list of ABI programs on Oct. 26 and the full NCBJ Annual Conference schedule, please click here.
ABI's Chapter 11 Reform Commission will also be holding a public hearing on Oct. 26 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. PT at the San Diego Marriott. Interested parties have the opportunity to submit testimony at the hearing. For further information, please contact ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano at [email protected]
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: WILLIAMS V. KING (IN RE KING; BAP 8TH CIR.)
Summarized by Lars Fuller of Baker and Hostetler LLP
The Eighth Circuit BAP affirmed an order of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri denying a motion to reconsider an order awarding sanctions and directing a creditor to dismiss a claim pending in state court as violating the debtor's chapter 7 discharge. The bankruptcy court had first granted a motion for sanctions against the appellants, then denied the appellants' motion to reconsider. The appellants appealed both the order for sanctions and the order denying the motion to reconsider. The BAP indicated that the appeal of the motion for sanctions was likely untimely, but the timeliness was not necessary for disposition, given the affirmation of the bankruptcy court's order on the merits and the timely appeal of the denial of the motion to reconsider.
There are more than 650 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:LETTING YOUR CREDITORS SUE YOU
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post raises the notion of debtors allowing creditors to sue them, rather than the debtors filing for bankruptcy, as a way to deal with debt.
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
Bankruptcy courts should adopt formal loss mitigation procedures to facilitate the negotiation of residential mortgage modifications for consumer debtors.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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ABI YOUNG AND NEW MEMBERS COMMITTEE “TRENDING ISSUES: EXAMINERS AND SELECT PLAN CONFIRMATION ISSUES” WEBINAR
Oct. 15, 2012 Register Today!