U.S. PERSONAL BANKRUPTCIES SET TO DROP AGAIN, ACCORDING TO FITCH RATINGS
Fitch Ratings issued a report today stating that personal bankruptcy filings are on track to achieve a fourth straight year of declines, Reuters reported today. Fitch projects 2014 filings to fall another 8-10 percent, following the 12 percent drop in 2013 filings. After that, the report says that the pace of improvement is likely to level off. "Banks will continue to ease underwriting standards and open up access to larger credit lines to consumers," said Fitch Managing Director Michael Dean. Filings closed slightly above the one million mark after falling 12 percent, or 145,759, to 1,011,732 from 1,157,491 in 2012. Read more.
To review the latest filing trends, including January 2014's numbers, please click here.
ANALYSIS: WELCOME RELIEF FOR HOMEOWNERS, UNTIL THE TAX BILL ARRIVES
While JPMorgan Chase will be able to write off the $1.5 billion in debt relief it must give homeowners to satisfy the terms of a recent settlement, the homeowners who receive the help will have to treat it as taxable income, resulting in whopping tax bills for many families who have just lost their homes or only narrowly managed to keep them, the New York Times reported yesterday. A tax exemption for mortgage debt forgiveness, put in place when the economy began to falter in 2007, was allowed to expire on Dec. 31, leaving hundreds of thousands of struggling homeowners in financial limbo even as the Obama administration has tried to encourage such debt write-downs. The tax exemption was intended to help homeowners who are underwater, and according to real estate data service CoreLogic, there are still more than 6.4 million households underwater. The number of people using the mortgage debt-relief exemption has increased every year, reaching almost 100,000 in 2011, the most recent year for which the IRS has figures. That number could be far greater for 2013, when there were more than a quarter-million short sales, according to Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac, who estimates that those families received an average debt reduction of roughly $37,000. If the exemption had not been in place, that would have translated to an extra $9,250 tax bill for those in the 25 percent bracket. Read more.
RETAILERS TO CONGRESS: THERE'S NO END IN SIGHT FOR CREDIT CARD BREACHES
A Target executive warned Congress that credit card breaches, such as the one that affected up to 110 million of its customers, are going to become very common and there may be that little retailers can do to shield shoppers for now, the Washington Post reported yesterday. "The unfortunate reality is that we suffered a breach, and all businesses -- and their customers -- are facing increasingly sophisticated threats from cyber criminals," Target Chief Financial Officer John J. Mulligan told lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. "In fact, recent news reports have indicated that several other companies have been subjected to similar attacks." Real change would require all the actors in the payment card system -- merchants, banks that issue credit cards and the card networks -- to work together to replace the plastic in our wallets with something more sophisticated, such as a card with a computer chip. "Updating payment card technology and strengthening protections for American consumers is a shared responsibility and requires a collective and coordinated response," Mulligan said.
AMERICANS BOOST SPENDING ON REMODELING
Americans are spending lavishly again to upgrade their homes, an indication that they remain confident about the long-term prospects for the recovery of the housing market despite recent signs of weakness, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Homeowners spent $130 billion on remodeling projects last year, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau. That was up 3.1 percent from 2012 and was the largest amount of home-remodeling spending since 2007, the year that the housing downturn began. Permits for remodeling jobs in the U.S. rose 5.1 percent last year from 2012, the largest increase since 2010, when the figures began their rebound from a 10-year low, according to permit-tracking company BuildFax. Home-equity lending -- which sank to its lowest level of the past 10 years in 2010 -- jumped 18 percent last year to $123.4 billion, according to estimates by Moody's Analytics. According to real estate data firm CoreLogic, two-thirds of all U.S. homeowners had at least 20 percent equity in their homes as of last year's third quarter, up from 53.2 percent two years earlier. Read more. (Subscription required.)
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD ENDS NEXT WEEK FOR PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE FEDERAL RULES OF BANKRUPTCY PROCEDURE
The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules has proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Official Forms, and requested that the proposals be circulated to the bench, bar, and public for comment. On August 15, 2013, the public comment period opened for the proposed amendments to Bankruptcy Rules 2002, 3002, 3007, 3012, 3015, 4003, 5005, 5009, 7001, 9006, and 9009 and Official Forms 17A, 17B, 17C, 22A-1, 22A-1Supp, 22A-2, 22B, 22C-1, 22C-2, 101, 101A, 101B, 104, 105, 106Sum, 106A/B, 106C, 106D, 106E/F, 106G, 106H, 106Dec, 107, 112, 113, 119, 121, 318, 423 and 427. The public comment period closes on February 15, 2014. For more information, please click here.
To access the online comment site for the proposed amendments, please click here.
PURCHASE EITHER THE CONSUMER OR BUSINESS EDITION OF THE BEST OF ABI 2013 AND RECEIVE A FREE ADDITIONAL TITLE!
To make room for new books in 2014, ABI is having a special Bookstore clearance sale. Now, when you buy either Best of ABI 2013: The Year in Business Bankruptcy or The Year in Consumer Bankruptcy, you can choose a free book from a select list of ABI publications. You'll be able to make your selection when you click "Buy Now" on either edition of the Best of ABI 2013. To purchase the Best of ABI 2013: The Year in Business Bankruptcy, please click here.
Make your selection when you click "Buy Now" on either edition of the Best of ABI 2013. To purchase the Best of ABI 2013: The Year in Consumer Bankruptcy, please click here.
LOOKING FOR A REPLAY OF THE "BACK TO BASICS" WEBINARS? CHECK OUT ABI'S CLE SITE!
The final installment of ABI's "Back to Basics" live webinar series, hosted by the Young and New Members Committee, was held last week, and you now have the opportunity to access the programs at your convenience! The three webinars in the series, an examination of financial statements and operating reports, using financial documents as evidence and issues surrounding bankruptcy and hedge funds, are now posted to ABI's e-Learning website. Let a trusted CLE provider help get your associates up to speed.
ABI'S SIXTH ANNUAL LAW STUDENT WRITING COMPETITION DEADLINE APPROACHING
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.
DETROIT EMERGENCY MANAGER KEVYN ORR TO KEYNOTE ABI'S 32ND ANNUAL SPRING MEETING ON APRIL 25
Kevyn Orr, emergency manager to the city of Detroit, will provide the keynote at the Friday Luncheon at ABI's 32nd Annual Spring Meeting at the JW Marriott in downtown Washington, D.C. The conference, taking place April 24-27, 2014, features a roster of the best national speakers, while the depth and scope of topics offer something for everyone. Specifically, four concurrent workshops will cover various "tracks," including programs for attorneys in commercial cases, a track for restructuring professionals, a track of professional development programming and a track dealing solely with consumer issues. The Annual Spring Meeting offers 18.25/22 hours of CLE/CPE credit, along with ethics credit totaling 3.25/4 hours. In addition, committee sessions will drill down on topics covered in the larger sessions to provide you with the most practical and varied CLE/CPE experience ever. Also featured will be a special half-day optional event sponsored by ABI and the FCBA titled "The Intersection of the FCC and Bankruptcy Law."
Sessions at the 2014 Annual Spring Meeting include:
- 18th Annual Great Debates
- Where the Work Is (and Isn't)
- The Ever-Changing Role of Committees
- Large Complex Trusts: A General Motors Case Study
- Municipal Bankruptcies
- Use of Governmental Assistance Programs in Chapter 13
- The Financial Professional's Role in Out-of-Court Restructurings and Dissolutions
- Civility in the Restructuring Profession
- Union Contracts
- Student Loan Update
- Social Media: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
- The § 363 Sale Process from a Transactional Perspective
The conference kicks off with an Opening Reception at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, offering a truly D.C. experience. Optional events include a golf tournament at Westfields Golf Club, a Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres baseball game and an evening at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra.
NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: CLARK V. ZWANZIGER (IN RE ZWANZIGER; 10TH CIR.)
Summarized by Michael Cooley of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Emphasizing the fact that issue preclusion generally applies to a decision on the merits of an issue that has been actually litigated, the Tenth Circuit held that issue preclusion does not apply to a final determination in district court that a party has waived an issue. Sharply dissenting, Judge Holloway emphasized the equitable nature of issue preclusion, and concluded there was no reason to relieve the plaintiff from the effect of his procedural error in the original district court litigation.
There are more than 1,200 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: WHAT PERCENTAGE GETS PAID BACK IN A CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY?
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks more than 80 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post looks at how to calculate what percentage of debts are going to get paid back to creditors if a consumer files for chapter 13 bankruptcy.
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 Bankruptcy Code permits a debtor to artificially impair a class for cramdown purposes.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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