REPUBLICAN SENATORS PROPOSE BILL TO BRING LARGE BANKS THROUGH BANKRUPTCY
Two Republican Senators proposed changes to the Bankruptcy Code to help unwind a large, failing financial institution, the latest salvo in an ongoing policy debate over how to avoid future taxpayer bailouts, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced a bill today that provides a new bankruptcy process for large firms, including the creation of a new "bridge" company to keep a failing firm operating and prevent a destabilizing run by all its creditors. Many experts and U.S. officials have said changes to the Bankruptcy Code are needed to allow it to accommodate a large firm's failure without market chaos, and the bill's "bridge" framework resembles a plan the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is developing to deal with failing firms. But the Senators' bill also would repeal a section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul: Title II, the part that allows the FDIC to take over a failing firm and unwind it, potentially with temporary taxpayer backing to keep its subsidiaries operating if no other options are available. Title II is only supposed to be used in cases where the firm can't be brought through bankruptcy. That piece of the bill is likely to draw opposition from Democrats who oppose changing the Dodd-Frank law, as well as the White House, which has said it's opposed to changing Dodd-Frank until its rules are largely written and implemented. Read more. (Subscription required.)
Click here to read the press release from Sen. Cornyn's office explaining the bill.
COMMENTARY: BIG BANKS AND THE FAILURE OF BANKRUPTCY
At a meeting of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Dec. 11, there was a complete and public collapse of the notion that today's large complex financial institutions could actually go bankrupt without causing a great deal of collateral damage, according to an editorial by Prof. Simon Johnson of the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management in the New York Times Economix blog today. In a free and fair discussion before the FDIC's Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee, proponents of bankruptcy as a viable option acknowledged that this would require substantial new legislation, implying a significant component of government support -- or what would reasonably be regarded as a form of "bailout" to a failing company and its stakeholders. As matters currently stand, bankruptcy for a big financial company would imply chaotic disaster for world markets (as happened after Lehman Brothers failed), according to Johnson. It is completely unrealistic to propose "fixing" this problem with legislation that would create a new genre of bailouts. Under current law -- and as a matter of common sense -- the Federal Reserve should take the lead in forcing megabanks to become smaller and simpler, according to the commentary. Under Section 165 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, large nonbank financial companies and big banks are required to create and update "the plan of such company for rapid and orderly resolution in the event of material financial distress or failure." The design is that this plan -- known as a "living will" -- should explain how the company could go through bankruptcy. Read the full commentary.
SEN. WARREN INTRODUCES BILL TO PROHIBIT COMPANIES FROM RUNNING CREDIT CHECKS ON JOB CANDIDATES
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their credit history, MassLive.com reported yesterday. Warren said that a person's poor credit history is often the result of medical bills, job loss or divorce and does not reflect his ability to perform a job. "Let people compete for jobs on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills," Warren said. "Research has shown an individual's credit rating has little to no correlation with his or her ability to succeed in the workplace." But business organizations argue that credit checks are used in a targeted way to guard against things like theft by employees who have financial responsibilities at a company. Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said that the association does not want to see tools taken away from an employer during the hiring process. Hurst said that credit reports are a good indicator of risk and of how responsible a person is. A 2012 report by the Society for Human Resource Management found that around half (47 percent) of companies conduct credit checks on some or all prospective employees. The bill, titled the "Equal Employment for All Act," would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prohibit employers from procuring a job applicant's credit report and would forbid employers from denying a person a job based on poor credit history. (The bill includes an exception for jobs requiring national security clearance.) The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic U.S. Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. A similar bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) in 2011, although it did not go anywhere. Sen. Warren, although she is a freshman senator, has significant political clout because of her strong following among progressive activists nationwide. The bill has not gotten any Republican support. Read more.
Fannie and Freddie, which currently back about two-thirds of new mortgages, are set to charge higher fees, a move that will affect rates for many new borrowers, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The mortgage giants said on Monday that, at the direction of their regulator, they will charge higher fees on loans to borrowers who don't make large down payments or don't have high credit scores -- a group that represents a large share of home buyers. Such fees are typically passed along to borrowers, resulting in higher mortgage rates. Fannie and Freddie, which currently back about two-thirds of new mortgages, don't directly make mortgages but instead buy them from lenders. The changes are aimed at leveling the playing field between the government-owned companies and private providers of capital, who are mostly out of the mortgage market now. Fannie and Freddie were bailed out by the government during the financial crisis but are now highly profitable. The Federal Housing Finance Agency last week signaled the fee increases but didn't provide details. The agency's move came one day before the Senate voted to confirm Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) as its director. Read more. (Subscription required.)
WATCH KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON DELIVER HIS KEYNOTE AT WLC!
Now available in ABI's Newsroom is the keynote address from Kevin D. Williamson, a roving correspondent for National Review and the author of The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier and More Secure. To watch the keynote, please click here: http://news.abi.org/videos
MISS THE ABILIVE WEBINAR LOOKING AT HOW TO HIRE THE RIGHT FINANCIAL ADVISORS? VIDEO NOW AVAILABLE!
Did you miss the abiLIVE webinar, "How to Hire the Right Financial Advisors" sponsored by ABI's Financial Advisors & Investment Banking Committee? In need of CLE before the end of the year? Then visit cle.abi.org to watch a video of the webinar and earn CLE! The program provides attendees with an overview and basic understanding of the different types of financial advisors that may be relevant for in- and out-of-court cases. Topics include:
- The different types of financial advisors available;
- The benefits and limitations for each category of advisor; and
- How to select the right advisor for the job.
Speakers on the webinar include:
- Daniel F. Dooley of MorrisAnderson (Chicago)
- Gregory S. Hays of Hays Financial Consulting LLC (Atlanta)
- Ivan Lehon of Ernst & Young (New York)
- Allen Soong of Deloitte CRG (Los Angeles)
- Teri Stratton of Piper Jaffray & Co. (El Segundo, Calif.)
Click here for more information and to purchase the video.
NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: BEST OF ABI 2013: THE YEAR IN CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY
Now available for pre-order in the ABI Bookstore is Best of ABI 2013: The Year in Consumer Bankruptcy. This must-have reference contains the best ABI Journal articles and papers from ABI's top-rated educational seminars selected by ABI Board Member Alane Becket of Becket & Lee LLP (Malvern, Pa.) to cover the most important developments in consumer bankruptcy for 2013. The book delves into such timely topics as the foreclosure crisis, tax issues, the latest on chapter 13, student loans and much more, and it also features relevant case summaries drawn from ABI's Volo site (volo.abi.org). Make sure to log into www.abi.org to get your discounted ABI member pricing. The book will ship in late December. Click here to order.
RENEW YOUR ABI MEMBERSHIP BY DEC. 31 AND SAVE!
Beginning in January 2014, ABI will institute its first dues increase to the regular dues rate in six years. The $20 increase will ensure that ABI can continue to provide you with the latest and most effective tools available in insolvency information and education. You can lock in 2013 rates, and additional discounts, for up to three years by using a multi-year renewal option (save $75!). You can also save 10 percent on future dues by opting into the automated dues program. To renew your membership and save, please go to renew.abi.org.
ABI LAUNCHES SIXTH ANNUAL WRITING COMPETITION FOR LAW STUDENTS
Law school students are invited to submit a paper between now and March 4, 2014 for ABI's Sixth Annual Bankruptcy Law Student Writing Competition. ABI will extend a complimentary one-year membership to all students who participate in this year's competition. Eligible submissions should focus on current issues regarding bankruptcy jurisdiction, bankruptcy litigation, or evidence issues in bankruptcy cases or proceedings. The first-place winner, sponsored by Invotex Group, Inc., will receive a cash prize of $2,000 and publication of his or her paper in the ABI Journal. The second-place winner, sponsored by Jenner & Block LLP, will receive a cash prize of $1,250 and publication of his or her paper in an ABI committee newsletter. The third-place winner, sponsored by Thompson & Knight LLP, will receive a cash prize of $750 plus publication of his or her paper in an ABI committee newsletter. For competition participation and submission guidelines, please visit http://papers.abi.org.
NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: BAKER V. TRUSTEE CAGE (IN THE MATTER OF WHITLEY; 5TH CIR.)
Summarized by John Jones of JRJONESLAW PLLC
The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded an order disgorging two properties transferred from debtor to debtor's counsel and held that while the Bankruptcy Code seeks to protect debtors and their estates from excessive or unnecessary legal fees, §329(b) limits the court to attorney compensation that exceeds the reasonable value of any services.
There are more than 1,000 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: THE SENATE, CHAPTER 14, AND A GENERAL LACK OF SERIOUSNESS
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks more than 80 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post examines a proposal to add "chapter 14" to the Bankruptcy Code for systemically important financial institutions.
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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