NEWS AND ANALYSIS
HOUSING PROGRAM SEEKS TO CUT MONTHLY PAYMENTS FOR DISTRESSED BORROWERS
Federal housing regulators took a significant step yesterday toward helping borrowers who are falling behind on their mortgage payments — a move that will help more people but will also introduce new risks that some homeowners could deliberately stop paying in order to become eligible for assistance, the Washington Post reported today. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced that borrowers who are more than 90 days late on their mortgages become automatically eligible for a modification to the terms of the home loan. In the past, to be eligible for a mortgage modification, borrowers had to provide documentation that they had a financial hardship. They will no longer be required to do so — though providing such documentation will make borrowers eligible for more substantial monthly savings. "This new option gives delinquent borrowers another path to avoid foreclosure," said Edward DeMarco, the acting director of FHFA. "We will still encourage such borrowers to provide documentation to support other modification options that would likely result in additional borrower savings." The program is only available to loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, which have been government-backed and controlled since late 2008. The relief would come in the form of a reduced interest rate, extended timeline for payments, or other measures. The goal is to reduce monthly payments. Read more.
S&P SEEKS TO MERGE STATE SUITS INTO ONE FEDERAL CASE
While 17 lawsuits have been filed against Standard & Poor's Ratings Services by state attorneys general who claim that the firm churned out shoddy ratings before or after the financial crisis, S&P wants to move the cases into a federal court—and shrink the total number of cases to one, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Winning the fight to merge the cases into a single lawsuit in federal court could help S&P limit its legal exposure by streamlining the potential damage claims against the rating firm, a unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. In recent court filings from Connecticut to Colorado, lawyers for S&P contend that the 17 state-court suits should be removed from those courts because rating firms are regulated under U.S. securities laws. "Congress has expressly found credit ratings and the management of potential conflicts of interest related to them to be 'of national importance,' " S&P said in a filing on Monday in an Iowa district court. In addition, S&P contends that it should only have to defend itself against only one merged case. Read more. (Subscription required.)
ANALYSIS: "TOO BIG TO FAIL" FEARS RISE AS BANKS BULK UP
Nearly three years after Congress passed the most far-reaching new regulations on Wall Street since the Great Depression, worries have resurfaced that the biggest U.S. banks have only grown in size and remain bailout candidates because they are “too big to fail,” the Washington Times reported on Tuesday. The latest fears cropped up as a result of statements by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who raised hairs on Capitol Hill last month when he testified that the Justice Department has not indicted any of the major U.S. banks or their top officers in cases of financial crimes in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis because there has been concern that doing so might hurt the economy or destabilize financial markets. "I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Though Holder's testimony did not initially get much publicity, his comments soon provoked outrage across a broad spectrum of legislators, from conservatives such as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) to liberals such as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Key legislators have since written Holder to demand an elaboration of his statement, which on its face amounts to an admission that the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law signed by President Obama did not accomplish one of its major goals: ensuring that the government would never again have to worry about “too-big-to-fail” banks. Read more.
SCHEDULED BANKRUPTCY COST INCREASES SET TO TAKE EFFECT ON APRIL 1
Certain dollar amounts in title 11 and title 28 of the U.S. Code will be increased for cases commencing after April 1, 2013. Seven Official Bankruptcy Forms (1, 6C, 6E, 7, 10, 22A and 22C) and two Director's Forms (200 and 283) will also be amended to reflect these adjusted dollar amounts. For a list of the sections in title 11 and 28 of the Bankruptcy Code affected by the increases, please click here.
Looking for more information? ABI’s Interactive Code and Rules (http://law.abi.org) is always up to date!
TRANSCRIPT NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE CHAPTER 11 COMMISSION'S HEARING ON LABOR AND BENEFITS ISSUES
The March 14 hearing of the ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 brought together two panels of top experts on labor and benefits issues. What were some of the topics discussed during the proceedings? Read the transcript 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!
Make sure to register today!
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.
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!
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: SEAVER V. KLEIN-SWANSON (IN RE KLEIN-SWANSON; 8TH CIR.)
Summarized by Omid Moezzi from the Office of Nancy Curry, Chapter 13 Trustee
The Eighth Circuit reversed the bankruptcy court's ruling in favor of the chapter 7 trustee, stating that (1) there was no transfer of funds under § 549 or 550 to the debtor, (2) the trustee failed to show how the estate acquired an interest in the funds received by the debtor post-petition, and (3) since the trustee is no longer a prevailing party, the award of costs under Rule 7054(b) is not appropriate.
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: HOUSE OVERDRAFT BILL COULD HURT CONSUMERS
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post took the position that H.R. 1261, the "Overdraft Protection Act of 2013" recently introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), will penalize the very customers the bill is trying to protect. Limiting the number of overdraft fees that financial institutions can charge an individual to one per month and six per year, as the bill seeks to do, could cause some consumers to miss a monthly mortgage or auto loan payment, have their utilities turned off or have their insurance cancelled when checks begin to bounce, according to the post.
Click here to view the text of the bill.
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.
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