U.S. CONSUMER SPENDING FALLS IN JUNE; INCOMES RISE
Consumer spending in the U.S. fell slightly in June and marked the second straight decline even though wages rose sharply, according to the latest government data, MarketWatch.com reported. Spending fell less than 0.1 percent last month on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Commerce Department said today, and spending for May was revised down slightly to a 0.1 percent decrease. Personal income, meanwhile, jumped 0.5 percent in June. Since incomes rose faster than spending, the personal savings rate rose to 4.4 percent from 4.0 percent. Read more.
REPORT: COMPLETED U.S. FORECLOSURES HOLD STEADY IN JUNE
CoreLogic reported today that the amount of completed U.S. home foreclosures held steady in June compared to the month before, although the level was down from a year ago, according to Reuters. There were 60,000 finished foreclosures in June, the same as in May and down from the 80,000 seen in June 2011, CoreLogic said. Since the financial crisis erupted in September 2008, there have been about 3.7 million foreclosures.
About 1.4 million homes, or 3.4 percent of homes with a mortgages, were in some stage of the foreclosure process. That was down from 1.5 million homes, or 3.5 percent, a year ago and unchanged from May. The five states with the highest number of foreclosures in the last 12 months were California, Florida, Michigan, Texas and Georgia. Those states alone accounted for 48.4 percent of all completed foreclosures. Read more.
ANALYSIS: CALIFORNIA LURING MOST MUNICIPAL FUND INVESTMENT SINCE 2007, DEFIES BANKRUPTCY WAVE
California municipal funds are garnering the most demand since 2007, helping fuel the biggest rally in the state's debt since May and allaying concerns that bankruptcies might curb the appetite of individual investors, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. With local yields close to their lowest rates since the 1960s, investors seeking tax-free income are willing to take the added risk of debt from Standard & Poor's lowest-rated U.S. state. Bond funds focusing on California issuers have added assets for 18 straight weeks, the longest streak since 2007, according to Lipper US Fund Flows data. The funds increased even as three municipalities in the past six weeks from the most-populous state decided to file for bankruptcy protection, including San Bernardino and Stockton, a city east of San Francisco that is trying to set a precedent by imposing losses on bondholders. Read more.
MUNI RATES EXAMINED FOR SIGNS OF RIGGING
Attention has swung to a set of benchmark interest rates that help determine how much cities and states pay to borrow money in the bond market, the New York Times reported today. The scrutiny of the Municipal Market Data (or M.M.D.) index comes on the heels of revelations that a broader financial industry benchmark, the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), was manipulated by banks before and after the financial crisis. Libor is used to help determine the costs of products like mortgages and credit cards. Thomson Reuters, which owns Municipal Market Data, said yesterday that it "has been involved in discussions with regulators" about the rates, which influence the prices of bonds and derivatives in the $3 trillion municipal bond market. The M.M.D. rates influence a much smaller market than Libor, but it is one that is crucial to how cities and states across America borrow money to maintain roads and bridges and provide essential services such as public education. The scrutiny of the M.M.D. rates comes as a number of other events are drawing attention to the transparency and fairness of the municipal bond market. Three former bankers at UBS yesterday went on trial in Manhattan on charges that they had colluded to steer municipal bond transactions to specific banks in exchange for kickbacks. Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission will release a lengthy report soon that recommends reforms for the municipal bond market so that investors are put on more even footing. Read more.
ANALYSIS: THOUGH SPLITTING UP WAS CONSIDERED, BANK OF AMERICA EXECUTIVES VOTED AGAINST THE IDEA
Long before Sanford Weill suggested last week that big banks should split up, Bank of America Corp. executives and directors considered the idea and then decided against it, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. While the Charlotte, N.C.-based company's exploration of a possible breakup in 2010 and 2011 came and went, it illustrates the powerful and contradictory forces buffeting giant financial companies even as the financial crisis recedes. Stung by public revulsion to the bailouts of 2008, regulators are pushing rules that would tax the biggest firms based on size. Big-bank share prices have tumbled, and even some bankers who spent their careers assembling sprawling conglomerates are questioning whether combining traditional lending with trading and deal-making makes sense. At Bank of America, Chief Executive Brian Moynihan and his team looked at a possible bankruptcy of Countrywide Financial Corp., the troubled mortgage operation it purchased in 2008. Management also studied whether it made sense to break off Merrill Lynch, the securities firm it purchased in 2009. Moynihan ultimately recommended to his board that neither action made sense. The company decided that Merrill had become too big of a profit center and that splitting it off could expose the brokerage firm to the sort of funding problems that killed off other Wall Street firms in 2008. Meanwhile, it felt that a bankruptcy of Countrywide might invite more legal and reputational troubles for Bank of America while exposing other subsidiaries to problems. Read more. (Subscription required.)
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: IN RE PHILADELPHIA NEWSPAPERS LLC (3D CIR.)
Summarized by Suzanne Iazzetta of Becker Meisel LLC
The Third Circuit ruled that when deciding whether an appeal is equitably moot, a court must consider all five factors set forth in In re Continental Airlines, 91 F.3d 553, 560 (3d Cir. 1996). In particular, a court must consider whether allowing the appeal to go forward would undermine the plan, an analysis that the court must undertake even if the plan has already been "substantially consummated."
Additionally, under applicable Pennsylvania law, the debtor’s post-petition publication of an article that included hyperlinks to a previously published allegedly defamatory article was not a "republication" such that it could be deemed a separate act of defamation. Therefore, the tort claimant did not sustain its burden to show its entitlement to a § 503(b)(9) administrative expense claim based on the debtor's post-petition publication.
More than 570 appellate opinions are summarized on Volo typically 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: HOW LONG UNTIL RESCAP LIQUIDATES?
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines the $109 million loss by Rescap in the first 45 days of its chapter 11 case and ponders whether there will be a liquidation in the case.
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 The Twombly/Iqbal rule for pleading ‘plausible’ claims has been applied too stringently in dismissing avoidance actions for failure to state a claim.
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