REPORT: AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT, LATE PAYMENTS FALL IN FIRST QUARTER
Credit reporting agency TransUnion said that the rate of credit card payments at least 90 days overdue fell to 0.69 percent in the first quarter from 0.85 percent a year earlier — a drop of nearly 19 percent, the Associated Press reported today. The January-March card delinquency rate was also down from 0.73 in the October-December quarter, when many consumers ramped up credit use to finance holiday season purchases. Average credit card debt per borrower fell 1.7 percent to $4,878 in the first quarter from $4,962 in the same period last year, TransUnion said. On a quarterly basis, it declined 4.8 percent from $5,122 in the fourth quarter. TransUnion, however, has forecast that average credit card debt will rise by roughly 8 percent to $5,446 by the end of this year — the highest level in four years. Read more.
EDITORIAL: DERIVATIVES REFORM ON THE ROPES
New rules to regulate derivatives, adopted last week by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, are a victory for Wall Street and a setback for financial reform, according to a New York Times editorial yesterday. The regulations, required under the Dodd-Frank reform law, are intended to impose transparency and competition on the notoriously opaque multitrillion-dollar market for derivatives, which is dominated by five banks: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. In the run-up to the financial crisis — and since — the lack of transparency and competition has fostered recklessness and instability, according to the editorial. Under the Dodd-Frank law, derivatives are supposed to be traded on “swap execution facilities,” which are to operate much like the exchanges that exist for equities and futures. Even as the new rules shift much of the trading to those facilities, the editorial says that they will also preserve the ability of the banks to maintain their old practices. For instance, the commission’s initial proposal called for hedge funds, asset managers and corporations to contact at least five banks when seeking prices for a derivatives contract. In a major concession to the banks, that number was lowered to two in the final rule. Read the full editorial.
REGULATORS TO VOTE ON OVERSIGHT OF NONBANK FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told the Senate Banking Committee that U.S. regulators will soon vote on which large nonbank financial firms will face much stricter government oversight as policymakers seek to reduce risks posed by Wall Street to the broader economy, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Lew appeared before the Senate Banking Committee to discuss the work of federal regulators to implement the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law and limit potential risks to the financial system. The Financial Stability Oversight Council, comprised of Treasury officials and other regulators, have struggled in deciding which large, complex financial firms should be subject to higher capital and other rules because of the potential risks they pose to the financial system. "The Council discussed its ongoing analysis at its most recent meeting on April 25, and it expects to vote on proposed designations of an initial set of nonbank financial companies in the near term," Lew said. While federal officials have declined to say publicly which firms are being considered for a "systemic" designation, at least three companies have reached the final of three stages in the review process. Prudential Financial Inc., American International Group Inc. and the GE Capital unit of General Electric Co. have advanced to the third stage, though regulators are considering a number of firms that could ultimately be subject to the enhanced oversight. "Yields and volatility in fixed-income markets are very low by historical standards, which may be providing incentives for market participants to 'reach for yield' by investing in lower-grade credit," Lew said in prepared remarks. Read more. (Subscription required.)
Click here to read Lew's prepared testimony for today's Senate Banking Committee hearing.
ANALYSIS: WIELDING HARRISBURG EXAMPLE, SEC AIMS FOR CITIES TO COMPLY WITH DISCLOSURE RULES
The Securities and Exchange Commission's rebuke of the city of Harrisburg this month over fraudulent statements and long-overdue disclosures to its bondholders could be seen as a warning to state and local politicians who offer too rosy a view of their financial health, according to a Reuters analysis yesterday. However, clear-cut cases of officials misstating their city's finances, such as Harrisburg, remain relatively rare, and the main goal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is far more basic: cajoling thousands of cities, counties and other organizations that sell bonds into complying with its disclosure rules. When the SEC charged the cash-strapped capital city of Pennsylvania on May 6, it effectively put officials across the country on notice that even political statements such as annual state-of-the-city addresses must not overstate financial conditions. The message was, "What you say can and will be used against you," said Ben Watkins, head of Florida's Division of Bond Finance. "What makes it precedent-setting is that it's the first time there's been an enforcement action on statements made by public officials." The SEC said Harrisburg had defrauded its creditors because numerous officials glossed over its disastrous finances and the city was overdue in its disclosures. While no individuals were held to account, an SEC commissioner said that it would not show such restraint in the future. Read more.
ABI LIVE WEBINAR NEXT WEEK WILL FOCUS ON CLASS ACTIONS IN BOTH BUSINESS AND CONSUMER CASES
Class action lawsuits in both chapter 11 and 13 cases are becoming more prevalent. Are you wondering whether your clients’ WARN Act claims would be better pursued against a debtor company in a class action adversary proceeding or in a class proof of claim, or both? If your client has been sued in a debtor’s consumer class action adversary proceeding, do you know the best defenses against class certification? ABI's panel of experts will highlight the case law and explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of class actions by creditors against debtor companies in chapter 11 cases and by debtors/trustees against creditors in chapter 13 cases on May 29 from 1-2:15 p.m. ET. Special ABI member rate available! Click here to register.
ASSOCIATES: ABI'S NUTS & BOLTS ONLINE PROGRAMS HELP YOU HONE YOUR SKILLS WHILE SAVING ON CLE!
Associates looking to sharpen their bankruptcy knowledge should take advantage of ABI's special offer of combining general, business or consumer Nuts & Bolts online programs. Each program features an outstanding faculty of judges and practitioners explaining the fundamentals of bankruptcy, offering procedures and strategies tailored for both consumer and business attorneys. Click here to get the CLE you need at a great low price!
ABI GOLF TOUR UNDERWAY; NEXT STOP IS CENTRAL STATES BANKRUPTCY WORKSHOP IN JUNE
Rob Schwartz and Scott Gautier are tied at 34 Stableford Points atop the closely bunched leaderboard after the ABI's Golf Tour's first stop at Lake Presidential Golf Club. Next up for the Tour is the famed Bear course at the Grand Traverse Resort at the Central States Bankruptcy Workshop on June 14. Final scoring to win the Great American Cupsponsored by Great American Groupis based on your top three scores at seven scheduled ABI events, so play as many as you can before the tour wraps up at the Winter Leadership Conference in December. See the Tour page for details and course descriptions. The ABI Golf Tour combines networking with fun competition, as golfers "play their own ball." Including your handicap means everyone has an equal chance to compete for the glory of being crowned ABI's top golfer of 2013! There's no charge to register or participate in the Tour, and women are most welcome.
ABI MEMBERS WELCOME TO ATTEND INSOL'S LATIN AMERICAN REGIONAL SEMINAR ON JUNE 13 IN SAO PAULO
ABI members are encouraged to attend INSOL’s Latin American regional seminar in São Paulo, Brazil, on June 13. The one-day seminar has been organized by INSOL in association with TMA Brasil to cover current cross-border insolvency and restructuring topics. The seminar is designed to be interactive and to allow the attendees to discuss and debate about practical issues with speakers who are leading players in the insolvency and restructuring field and with experience in insolvency proceedings involving different countries. The seminar will benefit from simultaneous translation in English, Portuguese and Spanish. For more information and to register, please click here.
NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: BANK OF CORDELL V. STURGEON (IN RE STURGEON; 10TH CIR.)
Summarized by Steven T. Mulligan of Bieging Shapiro & Barber LLP
The Tenth Circuit BAP found that the evidence supported the bankruptcy court’s finding that the debtor was an active, knowing participant in a fraudulent scheme to deceive the appellee through a series of false representations and false pretenses that created a contrived and misleading understanding by the appellee, and that the debtor thereby intended to deceive the appellee.
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: WILL TRADITIONAL CHAPTER 11 INVESTORS FIND A ROLE IN CHAPTER 9?
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. While most chapter 11 cases have “rules of engagement” that are well-known by the sophisticated players who are guided by the Bankruptcy Code and an extensive body of case law, chapter 9 lacks much of this clarity, making it a scarier place for traditional funds to invest, according to a recent blog post.
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 implement constructive trusts in any case where applicable state law would recognize them.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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