JANUARY BANKRUPTCY FILINGS DECREASE 11 PERCENT FROM PREVIOUS YEAR, COMMERCIAL FILINGS FALL 26 PERCENT
Total bankruptcy filings in the United States decreased 11 percent in January over last year, according to data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc. Bankruptcy filings totaled 78,471 in January 2013, down from the January 2012 total of 88,028. Consumer filings declined 10 percent to 74,743 from the January 2012 consumer filing total of 83,022. The total commercial filings in January 2013 also decreased to 3,728, representing a 26 percent decline from the 5,006 business filings recorded in January 2012. Total commercial chapter 11 filings experienced the largest decrease as they fell 36 percent from the 749 commercial chapter 11 filings in January 2012 to 479 filings in January 2013. Read more.
ANALYSIS: REGULATIONS LEADING COMPANIES TO SHIFT FROM PUBLIC TO PRIVATE DEBT ISSUANCES
A tectonic shift is under way in how companies raise money--and it will have a profound impact on U.S. investors and markets, according to an analysis in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission's most recent estimates, businesses have been raising more funds through private transactions than through debt and equity offerings registered under the securities laws and offered to the general public. Overall public debt and equity issuances fell by 11 percent between 2009 and 2010, to $1.07 trillion, while private issues rose by 31 percent, to $1.16 trillion. This shift, which has been driven by the rising costs of public-market participation and regulation, will likely accelerate when the SEC implements reforms in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which the president signed into law last April. The crowdfunding provisions in the JOBS Act are intended to democratize investment opportunities using the Internet and have attracted the most public attention. Experts anticipate a paradigm shift in how companies raise money, as they increasingly shun the highly regulated, costly and volatile public markets in favor of now deeper and more efficient private markets. Read more. (Subscription required.)
MUNICIPAL DEFAULT RISK AT 18-MONTH LOW AS CONFIDENCE CLIMBS
Investor confidence in U.S. municipal debt is at its highest level since 2011, buoyed by local governments showing the fewest defaults since at least 2009 while revenue recovers to pre-recession levels, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. It cost the annual equivalent of as little as $172,000 last week to protect $10 million of munis for 10 years through credit-default swaps, according to Markit Group Ltd. data compiled by Bloomberg. That is the cheapest since July 2011. The price of swaps for California, which had its credit upgraded last week for the first time in six years after forecasting a surplus, also set an 18-month low. The declining price shows investors in the $3.7 trillion muni market view that the three bankruptcy filings last year by California cities were isolated events that are running counter to the state's trend of improving its finances. Defaults fell the past two years, running counter to the jump forecast in 2010 by banking analyst Meredith Whitney, chief executive officer of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group. Read more.
ANALYSIS: "TOO BIG TO FAIL" MAY BE TOO HARD TO FIX AMID CALLS TO CURB BANK GROWTH
Top U.S. bank regulators and lawmakers are pushing for action to limit the risk that the government again winds up financing the rescue of one or more of the nation's biggest financial institutions, according to a Bloomberg News analysis yesterday. Officials leading the debate, including Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), share the view that the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act failed to curb the growth of large banks after promising in its preamble to "end too big to fail." Strategies under consideration include capping the size of big banks, making them raise more capital, discouraging mergers and requiring that financial firms hold specified levels of long-term debt to convert into equity in a failure. JPMorgan's 2012 trading loss of more than $6.2 billion from a bet on credit derivatives raised questions anew about whether the largest institutions have grown too complex to oversee effectively. That loss is among events that "have proven 'too big to fail' banks are also too big to manage and too big to regulate," Brown said. "The question is no longer about whether these megabanks should be restructured, but how we should do it." Brown and fellow Banking Committee member David Vitter (R-La.) are considering legislation that would impose capital levels on the largest banks higher than those agreed to by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the Financial Stability Board, which set global standards. Brown also plans to reintroduce a bill he failed to get included in Dodd-Frank or passed in the last Congress that would cap bank size and limit non-deposit liabilities. Read more.
COMMENTARY: DESPITE REORGANIZATIONS, SCANT SIGNS OF CHANGE IN AIRLINE INDUSTRY
Airlines rarely seem to use chapter 11 as an opportunity to try something new, even though a reorganization presents an ideal time to alter their business practices, according to a commentary yesterday by Prof. Stephen J. Lubben of Seton Hall Law in the New York Times DealBook blog. Not long after the Bankruptcy Code was enacted in 1978, major airlines began filing bankruptcy, beginning with classic cases like Eastern Airlines and Pan Am. More recently, major airlines have followed one of two main paths in their reorganization cases. Some sell themselves to another airline. TWA's last chapter 11 case, when it sold its assets under § 363 of the Code to American, is a good example. The other path is to reorganize as a stand-alone entity. Under this approach, the airline imposes some pain on shareholders, employees and creditors, but otherwise comes out the other side essentially the same company as it was before bankruptcy. Airlines find themselves in bankruptcy often, much like the railroads of an earlier age, as they have high fixed costs and are highly sensitive to economic conditions. Read the full commentary.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ACCUSES CRIME RING OF $200 MILLION CREDIT CARD FRAUD
The Justice Department said that an international crime ring created thousands of fake identities to obtain tens of thousands of credit cards and steal more than $200 million, Bloomberg News reported today. Charges against 18 people were unsealed today in federal court in Newark, N.J., where U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said that the scam was "one of the largest credit card fraud schemes ever uncovered" by the Justice Department. The conspirators created thousands of false identities and credit profiles, burnished their creditworthiness, and took large loans that were never repaid, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest complaint. Millions of dollars were wired overseas to Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, China, Romania, Japan and Canada, the FBI claims. Read more.
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.
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: IN RE PORAYKO (7TH CIR.)
Summarized by George Spathis of Horwood Marcus & Berk
A recent ruling by the Seventh Circuit found that a checking account constitutes "personal property" that remains within the "control" of the account's holder, and therefore is subject to a citation lien under Illinois law.
There are more than 750 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: REFLECTING ON THE LESSONS LEARNED FROM MAMMOTH LAKES' CHAPTER 9 CASE
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines some of the lessons learned from the chapter 9 filing of Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
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
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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