FIRST QUARTER BANKRUPTCY FILINGS FALL 16 PERCENT FROM 2012, COMMERCIAL FILINGS DROP 27 PERCENT
Total bankruptcy filings in the United States decreased 16 percent in the first calendar quarter (Jan. 1 - March 31) of 2013 from the same period in 2012, according to data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc. Bankruptcy filings totaled 263,516 in the first quarter of 2013, down from the 314,832 filings registered in the first calendar quarter of 2012. Total commercial filings for the first three months of 2012 were 11,521, representing a 27 percent decrease from the 15,869 filings during the same period in 2012. The 251,995 total noncommercial filings recorded in the first calendar quarter of 2013 represented a 16 percent decrease from the 2012 total of 298,963. Click here to read the full ABI press release.
Click here to access the March 2013 bankruptcy filing data charts.
NEW BANKRUPTCY CLAIMS TRANSFER FEE TO TAKE EFFECT MAY 1
Federal bankruptcy courts will institute a new $25 fee for filing evidence of claims transfers, transactions in which bankruptcy claims are sold by one creditor to another, usually as part of a speculative investment, according to a release today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The fee, approved last September by the Judicial Conference of the United States, will take effect May 1. The fee will be assessed by bankruptcy courts on each individual claim or partial claim that is transferred, and it must be paid by the creditor that files evidence of the transfer (typically the claim transfer form) with the courts. Debtors filing for bankruptcy will not be affected by the fee. The fee must be paid by credit card, using Pay.gov, when the claims transfer is filed with the courts' Case Management/Electronic Case Files system, or by whatever means is designated by the court if the claims transfer is not filed electronically. Read more.
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PUSHES BANKS TO MAKE HOME LOANS TO PEOPLE WITH WEAKER CREDIT
The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place, the Washington Post reported yesterday. President Obama's economic advisers and outside experts say the nation's housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession. In response, administration officials say that they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default. Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default. Officials are also encouraging lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining whether to offer a loan and are seeking to make it easier for people who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance at today's low interest rates, among other steps. Read more.
In related news, the improving job market is lifting incomes and helping families repair credit scores, expanding the pool of eligible buyers and providing additional firepower to the housing recovery, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. About 7 million mortgageholders have had to leave their homes since 2007 because of foreclosure or a short sale, in which a property is sold for less than is owed, according to RealtyTrac. More than 1 million of them are now eligible for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which requires a three-year waiting period and a minimum 3.5 percent down payment, said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics Inc. While many Americans will be blocked from buying because of insufficient credit, savings and income, eligible households will expand to nearly 2 million by the end of 2014, Zandi said. Read more.
ANALYSIS: AS BUSINESS LENDING INCREASES, CONCERNS EMERGE ABOUT PROFIT
The recent uptick in bank business lending is starting to flash some warning signs that banks are making loans to businesses at rates that are so low they may end up being unprofitable, the New York Times DealBook blog reported yesterday. A recent survey by the Federal Reserve shows that American banks are charging an average of just 2.83 percent on commercial and industrial loans, down from 3.4 percent a year earlier. Banks of all sizes are participating in this resurgence, including smaller banks, which managed to avoid many of the excesses of the credit boom of the last decade. Extraordinarily low interest rates have breathed life into several markets where companies go to borrow. Last year, companies issued nearly $360 billion of junk bonds in the U.S., according to Dealogic. Less noticed was the increase in commercial and industrial loans at American banks. They added $174 billion of such loans in 2012, a 13 percent increase from the prior year, according to figures from the Fed. Read more.
GAO: 401(K) COMPANIES OFTEN MISLEAD ACCOUNT-HOLDERS
Money management firms frequently offer workers misleading and self-serving information about how to handle their retirement savings when they change jobs, according to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday, the Washington Post reported. Departing workers are often encouraged to roll their accounts into individual retirement accounts (IRAs) run by the firms that already manage their retirement money, even when it would be best for the outgoing employees to keep their money in a 401(k), the GAO investigation concluded. Having workers move their money into IRAs typically allows money management companies to harvest bigger fees for handling the retirement money, the report said. The GAO had undercover investigators call 30 money management firms posing as workers about to change jobs in an effort to learn how money managers market their services. In seven cases, they were given incorrect information, including that moving their money into an IRA would be "free," even though workers would incur ongoing fees by opening the accounts. The GAO also reviewed the websites of 10 large firms and found that five incorrectly said that their IRAs were free. Read more.
LATEST ABI PODCAST EXAMINES BANKRUPTCY VALUATION ISSUES
ABI's latest podcast features ABI Resident Scholar Prof. Scott Pryor speaking with Dr. Israel Shaked of The Michel-Shaked Group (Boston) and Robert F. Reilly of Willamette Management Associates Inc. (Chicago), authors of a new ABI publication, A Practical Guide to Bankruptcy Valuation. Shaked and Reilly discuss their book and other issues involved in the complex task of valuing a bankrupt or financially distressed business. Click here to listen to the podcast.
For more information or to purchase A Practical Guide to Bankruptcy Valuation, please click here.
BLOOMBERG'S LATEST "BILL ON BANKRUPTCY" VIDEO: STOCKTON MAY WIN THE BATTLE, BUT LOSE THE WAR
Although Stockton, Calif. established the right to be in a chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy, the judge warned the city that victory may be short-lived if bondholders prove that pensioners must take a haircut along with other unsecured creditors. The latest Bloomberg bankruptcy video with Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia and Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle examines the issue. Click here to watch.
TOMORROW! DON’T MISS THE ABI LIVE WEBINAR – "LEGACY LIABILITIES: DEALING WITH ENVIRONMENTAL, PENSION, UNION AND SIMILAR TYPES OF CLAIMS"
A panel of experts has been assembled for a webinar on April 5 from 1-2:15 p.m. ET to discuss environmental and pension liabilities, the statutory schemes under which these liabilities arise and the key players involved. Are non-monetary environmental claims dischargeable? Do post-petition expenditures for environmental cleanup constitute administrative expenses? When can an employer terminate a pension plan in bankruptcy, what is the process and what are the consequences? Learn the answer to these questions and more from the comfort of your own office. Special ABI member rate is available! Register here.
HOTEL BLOCK FOR ABI'S ANNUAL SPRING MEETING ALMOST SOLD OUT! REGISTER TODAY!
The hotel block at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., is almost sold out for ABI’s 2013 Annual Spring Meeting! Held April 18-21, 2013, 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: ARROYO V. SCOTIABANK DE PUERTO RICO (IN RE ARROYO; 1ST CIR.)
Summarized by William Amann of Craig, Deachman & Amann PLLC
The First Circuit ruled that a chapter 7 debtor lacked standing to appeal because he could not demonstrate that either (1) a reasonable possibility existed that a surplus would exist if the order on appeal was denied or (2) the appealed order adversely affected his discharge.
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: FURTHER EXAMINATION OF STOCKTON'S ONGOING CHAPTER 9 CASE
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post takes a closer look at Stockton, Calif.'s chapter 9 case, which was allowed to continue after Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein on Monday issued a bench ruling finding that Stockton is an eligible debtor and therefore entitled to remain in bankruptcy.
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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