Lobbying groups for the largest U.S. banks pushed back against claims that they remain too big to fail, rebutting assertions by lawmakers and regulators that they enjoy a "taxpayer subsidy" because of their size, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. The Dodd-Frank Act, passed by Congress in response to the 2008 credit crisis, greatly diminished the advantage that the biggest lenders held over smaller rivals, five industry groups wrote today in a brief on the issue. "There is substantial evidence that the market recognizes the impact Dodd-Frank has had on investor expectations," the Clearing House, Financial Services Forum, Financial Services Roundtable, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and American Bankers Association said in their brief. “Given the sizable costs associated with new regulations, together with the new orderly liquidation framework, any purported TBTF-related funding advantage has clearly been reduced or even eliminated." The financial-industry groups, representing lenders such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., are responding to complaints by lawmakers and regulators including Warren and Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher that Dodd-Frank did not do enough to rein in big lenders. Read more.
COMMENTARY: HOW TO SHRINK THE "TOO-BIG-TO-FAIL" BANKS
A dozen megabanks today control almost 70 percent of the assets in the U.S. banking industry as the concentration of assets has been in progress for years, but it intensified during the 2008–09 financial crisis, when several failing giants were absorbed by larger, presumably healthier ones, according to a commentary in today's Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, the mere 0.2 percent of banks deemed "too big to fail" are treated differently from the other 99.8 percent, and differently from other businesses. Implicit government policy has made these institutions exempt from the normal processes of bankruptcy and creative destruction, according to the commentary. Without fear of failure, these banks and their counterparties can take excessive risks. The commentary offers a few steps to level the competitive landscape:
1) Roll back the federal safety net—deposit insurance and the Federal Reserve's discount window—to apply only to traditional commercial banks, and not to the nonbank affiliates of bank holding companies or the parent companies themselves, which the safety net was never intended to protect.
2) Require customers, creditors and counterparties of all nonbank affiliates and the parent holding companies to sign a simple, legally binding, unambiguous disclosure acknowledging and accepting that there is no government guarantee—ever—backstopping their investment. A similar disclaimer would apply to bank deposits outside the FDIC insurance limit and other unsecured debts.
3) Restructure the largest financial holding companies so that every one of their corporate entities is subject to a speedy bankruptcy process and, in the case of banking entities themselves, be of a size that is "too small to save."
ANALYSIS: AS ASBESTOS CLAIMS RISE, SO DO WORRIES ABOUT FRAUD
With dozens of asbestos-related manufacturers forced into bankruptcy, a burgeoning swath of the legal action has shifted out of the courtroom and into a world of trusts that evaluate claims and authorize payouts with little outside scrutiny, according to an analysis yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. Fraud allegations have periodically dogged the trusts, and even though the worst asbestos-related diseases are finally starting to taper off, there is growing concern that the trusts will run out of money before America runs out of asbestos victims. Three decades after Manville Corp. collapsed under an avalanche of asbestos litigation, personal-injury claims in the case continue to pile up at a rate of 85 per day. By last March, a Manville bankruptcy trust had already paid out nearly $4.3 billion. "Right now there are a lot of suggestions that fraud and abuse are present," says House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, who has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on a bill requiring trusts to publish detailed claims reports to help ensure that money goes only to legitimate victims. In recent months, judges across the country who handle asbestos cases involving still-viable companies have granted defense requests to subpoena bankruptcy trusts to sniff out potentially false and conflicting evidence. Many defendants believe such data could help expose fraudulent or inflated claims that could potentially save them hundreds of millions of dollars in jury verdicts. Read more. (Subscription required.)
COMMENTARY: ENTERPRISE VALUE TAX PROPOSAL WOULD HIT FIRMS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH "CARRIED INTEREST"
The Enterprise Value Tax (EVT) has been inserted into congressional proposals to "fix" carried interest, but the legislation would claw back significantly more money than investment managers and other financial professionals have ever saved by taking legal, proper and open advantage of the carried-interest tax treatment, according to a commentary in today's Wall Street Journal. Under current law, entrepreneurs of all types who sell their companies are taxed on the profits at the capital-gains rate. The EVT seeks to change this, but only for the sale of certain businesses—namely investment-service partnerships, the sale of which would now be taxed as regular income. The EVT is designed to claw back entrepreneurs' supposedly ill-gotten carried-interest gains from the past. Worse, the commentary says that the proposed new tax would mostly affect people who do not currently benefit much, if at all, from the tax treatment of carried interest. The savings afforded to carried interest have benefited only a small subset of investment managers who have substantial performance-fee earnings in the form of long-term capital gains. That category does not include many hedge funds, whose gains are mostly short-term, or traditional money managers, who do not center their businesses around performance fees. The EVT would raise the bulk of its revenue from investment-services partnerships that have little or no carried-interest earnings, or whose carried interest is already taxed at the same rate as ordinary income because the performance fee results from ordinary income or short-term capital gains. Read the full commentary. (Subscription required.)
For insight, the Cato Institute released an analysis last year on the dangers of the proposed enterprise value tax. Click here to read the analysis.
REPORT: APPEALS COURT ACTIVITY RISES, BANKRUPTCY COURTS AND DISTRICT COURTS SEE DROP-OFF IN CASELOADS IN FY2012
Appeals court activity increased in fiscal year 2012 (12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2012) as filings dropped in bankruptcy courts and district courts, according to the "Judicial Business of the U.S. Courts" report released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The regional U.S. courts of appeals reported that filings rose 4 percent to 57,501. In the U.S. district courts, total filings fell 5 percent to 372,563 as civil case filings decreased 4 percent to 278,442 and criminal defendant filings declined 9 percent to 94,121. Petitions filed in the U.S. bankruptcy courts dropped 14 percent to 1,261,140. To read the report and review the caseload totals, please click here.
SMU DEDMAN SCHOOL OF LAW TAKES TOP HONORS AT 21st ANNUAL DUBERSTEIN MOOT COURT COMPETITION
Students from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law prevailed over a record 60 other student teams to win first place at the 21st Annual Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, held March 9-11 in New York. The competition is co-sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and St. John’s University School of Law. Florida Coastal School of Law took second place in the competition, while the University of Florida Frederic G. Levin College of Law and a team from Stetson University College of Law shared the honors for third place. The University of Miami School of Law won the award for the Best Brief of the competition, and Nicholas Andrews of Mississippi College School of Law took the honor of Best Advocate. Nearly 1,000 members of the New York-area insolvency community attended the final-night awards dinner at Pier 60 on the Manhattan waterfront. For more information on ABI's Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, please go to http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/academics/llm/duberstein.
LATEST ABI PODCAST EXAMINES THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CHAPTER 11 FOR CHURCH FINANCIAL DISTRESS
The latest ABI Podcast features ABI Resident Scholar Scott Pryor speaking with Prof. Pamela Foohey of the University of Illinois College of Law discussing her recent paper examining church reorganizations that filed for chapter 11 protection, titled "Bankrupting the Faith." Foohey discusses her empirical study looking at church bankruptcies from 2006-11 to draw out the characteristics of the filings and case outcomes to see if bankruptcy is an effective solution to the institution's financial problems. Click here to listen.
DON'T MISS ABC'S FREE EVENT, "THE AUTO BANKRUPTCIES: CHECKING THE REARVIEW MIRROR," ON MARCH 22!
ABI members are encouraged to register for the American College of Bankruptcy's "The Auto Bankruptcies: Checking the Rearview Mirror" on March 22 at Boston College Law School in Newton, Mass. The afternoon event will feature key players looking back at the events that led to GM and Chrysler being placed into bankruptcy and the lessons that have been learned from the cases. Panelists include:
• Corrine Ball of Jones Day (New York), who served as lead bankruptcy counsel to Chrysler.
• Matthew A. Feldman of Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP (New York), who served as chief legal advisor to the Obama administration's Task Force on the Auto Industry.
• Hon. Arthur J. Gonzalez, a Senior Fellow at New York University School of Law and formerly the Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, who presided over the Chrysler chapter 11 proceedings.
• Harvey R. Miller of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP (New York), who served as lead bankruptcy counsel to GM.
The moderator will be Mark N. Berman of Nixon Peabody LLP (New York).
Registration for the afternoon event is free, so be sure to sign up today before it reaches capacity!
ABI'S ANNUAL SPRING MEETING: CONSUMER PROGRAMMING WITH CROSS-OVER APPEAL
With four session tracks looking at issues geared toward chapter 11 restructurings, financial advisors, professional development and consumer bankruptcy, a number of sessions at ABI's Annual Spring Meeting have cross-over appeal for both consumer and business practitioners. Sessions include:
• The Appellate Process: This distinguished panel will explore recent issues in appellate practice that are of interest to both consumer and business practitioners, including the ability to bypass intermediary appellate courts and take appeals directly to the circuit courts.
• Consumer Class Actions: This panel will explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of class actions by debtors/trustees against creditors in chapter 13 cases, which are highlighted by two recent decisions of the Fifth Circuit. Many of the issues discussed during this panel will be useful in business cases as well.
• The Individual Conundrum - Chapter 7, 11 or 13?: Deciding on the appropriate chapter for a high net worth individual contemplating a bankruptcy filing can be a daunting task. This panel will explore the considerations that guide the practitioner in advising individual clients in making this decision.
To register for the Annual Spring Meeting and to see the full schedule of program tracks and events, 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: COOK V. BACA (10TH CIR.)
Summarized by Steven T. Mulligan of Bieging Shapiro & Barber LLP
The court affirmed the dismissal of the pro se appellant's complaint in part and remanded with instructions to modify a portion of the dismissal from a dismissal with prejudice to one without prejudice for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The court found that the appellant lacked the standing to argue that a violation of the automatic stay had occurred because the BAP had already found that such claims belong to the bankruptcy estate, so the appellant lacked standing to bring such arguments.
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: PROBLEMS AT FHA TOO BIG FOR CONGRESS TO IGNORE
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post found that reform efforts could result in a much smaller scope of permissible lending at the FHA, with a renewed focus on its traditional core of low-income customers, higher credit score requirements and increased down payments.
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
As a result of the RadLAX decision, the right to credit-bid will likely chill bidding at auctions, as potential purchasers may be dissuaded from participating in the bidding process.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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