NEWS AND ANALYSIS
FORECLOSURE STARTS DOWN ON ANNUAL BASIS IN OCTOBER
U.S. homes are entering the foreclosure process at a slower pace than a year ago, and fewer properties are being repossessed by lenders, the Associated Press reported today. Between January and October, 971,533 homes were placed on the path to foreclosure, down 8 percent from the same period last year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said today. At the other end of the foreclosure process, banks repossessed 559,063 homes through the end of last month, a decline of nearly 19 percent from a year earlier. That puts lenders on pace to complete 650,000 foreclosures this year, down from 800,000 in 2011, the firm said. The data, however, also shows that there are signs at the state level that more homes could end up in foreclosure in the coming months. The trend is most evident in judicial-process states such as New York, Florida and New Jersey. Fourteen states saw an annual increase in foreclosure activity, which RealtyTrac measures as the number of homes receiving a default notice, scheduled for auction or repossessed by the bank. Read more.
To see the percentage of loans in foreclosure by state (judicial v. non-judicial) for 3Q 2012, please visit ABI's Chart of the Day page.
MAJOR RETAILERS SELLING FINANCIAL PRODUCTS, CHALLENGING BANK OFFERINGS
As the nation's largest banks remain stingy with credit offerings following the financial downturn, major retailers are stepping in to fill the void, the New York Times reported today. Customers can now withdraw cash at an ATM with a prepaid card from Walmart, take out a loan at Home Depot for a kitchen renovation or kick-start a new venture with a small-business loan from Sam’s Club. This year, Walmart even started to test selling a life insurance policy. Consumer advocates are torn about the growth of this shadow banking industry. Financial products are making it into the hands of people who might not otherwise qualify for them, but these products are not always subject to the same regulations as bank products are. And to turn a profit, retailers generally have to charge more to people with poor credit or none at all. Read more.
SEC REPORT FINDS FAULTS WITH CREDIT RATERS
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in a report today that the credit-ratings industry remains plagued by failures in meeting its own standards, weak oversight and poor documentation of its rating decisions, despite years of heightened scrutiny after the financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported. In its second annual report on the nine credit-rating firms registered with the agency, the SEC said that Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings still do not always follow their own standards for rating deals. The firms are required by the SEC to disclose and follow their methodologies for assigning ratings to securities so that investors know how those deals are being judged. The Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation required the SEC to conduct annual examinations of the registered rating firms, and deliver a report on its findings. Read more. (Subscription required.)
Click here to read the SEC's report.
REGULATORS SEEK CHANGES IN HOW MONEY-MARKET FUNDS OPERATE
The government on Tuesday inched closer to tightening its oversight of the $2.6 trillion money-market industry when a panel of top financial regulators put forward options for addressing the industry’s vulnerabilities, the Washington Post reported yesterday. The industry immediately expressed frustration with the proposal, saying that it resembles a plan that failed to gain support from the Securities and Exchange Commission. That plan, vigorously opposed by the industry, stalled when three of the SEC’s five commissioners said they would reject it. Under the recommendations put forward on Tuesday by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the funds would have to set aside reserves as a buffer for times of crisis, restrict how quickly investors can redeem their money, or allow the value of a fund’s shares to fluctuate. Currently, one share of a money market fund is generally valued at $1. The funds have been popular with investors because they seem as stable and reliable as a bank account. But unlike bank accounts, they are not federally insured, and that image of security was shattered during the 2008 financial crisis when the Reserve Primary Fund, the nation’s first money-market fund, "broke the buck" because its value fell below $1 a share. Read more.
OPEN PUBLIC HEARING ON CHAPTER 11 REFORM AT ABI'S WINTER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE
ABI's Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 will hold a public hearing on Friday, Nov. 30, at 11:15 a.m. (MT) during the Winter Leadership Conference in Tucson, Ariz., at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort. Members are welcome to provide testimony on their suggestions for ways to improve the operation of chapter 11. The hearing is the fifth in a series of public field hearings. Statements and video from all the recent hearings can be found at the Commission website at http://commission.abi.org.
Interested members should contact Sam Gerdano at email@example.com for more details about in-person testimony. Those interested may also file written statements of any length for consideration by the Commission. All materials will be part of the Commission's record to be transmitted to Congress following the two-year investigation and report. Please consider this great opportunity to become part of the legal reform of the Bankruptcy Code.
RICHMOND BAR CALLING FOR NOMINATIONS TO FILL JUDICIAL VACANCY; SUBMISSIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY DEC. 13
The Judiciary Committee of the Richmond (Va.) Bar Association invites ABI members to submit nominations to fill a judicial vacancy in the U.S. Bankruptcy
Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The court is looking to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Bankruptcy Judge Douglas O. Tice, Jr.
Suggestions must be in writing and should be mailed to Virginia H. Grigg, Esq., c/o Richmond Bar Association, P.O. Box 1213, Richmond, Virginia 23218 or hand-delivered to her at the Bar office located at 707 E. Main Street, Suite 1620, Richmond, VA 23219. Nominations must be received by 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 13, 2012, in order to be considered.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: STOEBNER V. SAN DIEGO GAS & ELECTRIC CO. (IN RE LGI ENERGY SOLUTIONS INC.; 8TH CIR.)
Summarized by Eric Lockridge of Kean Miller LLP
The Eighth Circuit ruled that where the debtor acted as a payment intermediary between a utility and a customer and the contract between the debtor and customer required the debtor to remit funds to the utility, the contract created a trust obligation in favor of the utility. Consquently, for purposes of § 547, the utility was a creditor of the debtor because the creditor (1) had unsecured claims for breach of trust and (2) was an intended beneficiary. Further, for purposes of calculating subsequent new value, the issue was not the subsequent services provided by the utility to the customer, but the subsequent payments from the customer to the debtor.
There are nearly 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: BOFA VS. MBIA AND THE FUTURE OF PRIVATE LABEL SECURITIZATION
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines the ongoing litigation between BofA and MBIA and its effect on the future of mortgage-backed securities.
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
Despite the "free and clear" language of Sect. 363(f), purchasers of assets in 363 sales may still be liable for injuries to unidentifiable future claimants. (In re Grumman Olson Indus, S.D.N.Y.).
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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