Nearly two years after a "fierce" debate that "fizzled as quickly as it started," University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel is arguing that the idea of giving states a way to file for bankruptcy remains relevant and necessary, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. In addition to corporations and consumers, the Bankruptcy Code allows municipalities to seek chapter 9 protection. But there is currently no chapter set aside for states that find themselves teetering on the brink of insolvency, nor have states needed one. Yet with major budget deficits, underfunded pensions and declining tax revenues, some say that states should have a legal framework within which to restructure. Skeel advocated the idea of state bankruptcy in The Weekly Standard, as well as in the pages of the Wall Street Journal between November 2010 and January 2011, and the view picked up steam once Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush added their voices. "Creditors of states have a great deal [of difficulty] collecting from the state," Skeel said recently in resurrecting the idea of state bankruptcy. "It's really hard to get a state to pay you because of sovereign immunity." Read more. (Subscription required.)
REGULATOR FACES ANOTHER LAWSUIT OVER DODD-FRANK
The Obama administration's new rules for Wall Street suffered another setback this week as the financial industry leveled a lawsuit challenging a crucial piece of the regulatory overhaul, the New York Times DealBook blog reported on Friday. The CME Group, a giant Chicago exchange, sued its regulator last Thursday over a new rule that aims to shed light on the murky derivatives trading industry. The regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, drafted the rule in January under guidance from the Dodd-Frank Act. The case is part of the financial industry's broader legal assault on Dodd-Frank. As regulators hash out the final details of some 400 rules, Wall Street has shifted the fight from backroom lobbying to the courtroom. The trading commission has already been sued twice over Dodd-Frank rules, and Wall Street plans to turn up the heat on the Obama administration next year with a bevy of other legal challenges. Read more.
There are record numbers of student borrowers in financial distress, but millions of parents who have taken out loans to pay for their children's college education make up a less-visible generation in debt, the New York Times reported yesterday. For the most part, these parents did well enough through midlife to take on sizable loans, but some have since fallen on tough times because of the recession, health problems, job loss or lives that took a sudden hard turn. In the first three months of this year, the number of student loan borrowers aged 60 and older was 2.2 million, a figure that has tripled since 2005. That makes them the fastest-growing age group for college debt. All told, those borrowers owe $43 billion, up from $8 billion seven years ago, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Read more.
TWO MILLION COULD LOSE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS UNLESS CONGRESS EXTENDS PROGRAM
More than 2 million Americans stand to lose their jobless benefits unless Congress reauthorizes federal emergency unemployment help before the end of the year, the Washington Post reported today. The people in danger of having their unemployment checks cut off are among those who have benefited least from the slowly improving job market: Americans who have been out of work longer than six months. These workers have exhausted their state unemployment insurance, leaving them reliant on the federal program. In addition to those at risk of abruptly losing their benefits in December, 1 million people would have their checks curtailed by April if the program is not renewed, according to lawmakers and advocates pushing for an extension. Read more.
ANALYSIS: DEEP DISCOUNTS ON FORECLOSED HOMES DISAPPEARING
A market analysis by Zillow found that the average national discount on a foreclosure in September has fallen to only about 8 percent below market value, the Washington Post reported today. That is a significant change from the 24 percent average markdown reported in 2009 during the depths of the housing bust, and another signal that the country's housing market is inching toward recovery. "There’s no such thing as a fire sale on a foreclosure right now," said Marc Joseph, a real estate agent in Fort Myers, Fla. "We’re getting back to that point where if something good hits the markets, we’re getting multiple offers again." According to Zillow, the deepest discounts can be found on foreclosures in the Pittsburgh area, at 27 percent. Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore have average markdowns on foreclosures topping 20 percent. But in many hard-hit markets, particularly ones where home prices fell sharply and investors and buyers have swooped in to buy up foreclosures, discounts have all but vanished. Zillow found that in Las Vegas and Phoenix, there is "no discernible difference" between foreclosure and non-foreclosure sales. 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 protected] 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.
The next public hearing will be Thursday, Nov. 15, at the CFA Annual Convention in Phoenix. For future Commission hearings, please click here: http://commission.abi.org/.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: OVERSTREET V. JOINT FACILITIES MANAGEMENT, LLC (IN RE CRESCENT RESOURCE LLC; 5TH CIR.)
Summarized by Eric Lockridge of Kean Miller LLP
The Fifth Circuit ruled that an untimely Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend a district court's judgment affirming a bankruptcy court's dismissal order does not extend the 30-day deadline to file a notice of appeal of the district court's judgment.
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: DEWEY LEBOEUF AVOIDS LITIGATION MORASS OF MOST LAW FIRM BANKRUPTCY CASES
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines how the settlement in the Dewey LeBoeuf case has helped the firm avoid the failures that typically produce lengthy and litigious bankruptcy cases. For more on issues related to large firm bankruptcies, listen to a recent ABI podcast here.
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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