NEWS AND ANALYSIS
ANALYSIS: HOW CHAPTER 11 SAVED THE U.S. ECONOMY
Harvard Business School Prof. Stuart C. Gilson’s recent study of the 2008 financial crisis says that restructuring and chapter 11 played a heroic role in helping the country rebound. In his article in the 2012 Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Gilson writes that the "amount of debt that needed to be restructured posed a seemingly insurmountable challenge." At one point, "$3.5 trillion of corporate debt was distressed or in default. [Between] 2008 and 2009, $1.8 trillion worth of public company assets entered chapter 11 bankruptcy protection—almost 20 times more than during the prior two years," according to Gilson. A significant portion of the private-equity industry, he says, was "widely believed to be on the verge of extinction." Instead, in a relatively short time, much of the corporate debt that defaulted during the financial crisis has been managed down, mass liquidations have been averted, and corporate profits, balance sheets and values have rebounded with remarkable speed, according to Gilson's analysis. Read more.
REPORT: U.S. STUDENT LOAN WRITE-OFFS HIT $3 BILLION IN FIRST TWO MONTHS OF 2013
An Equifax study showed that U.S. banks wrote off $3 billion of student loan debt in the first two months of 2013, up more than 36 percent from the same period a year ago, Reuters reported yesterday. The credit reporting agency also said that student lending has grown from last year because more people are going back to school and the cost of higher education has risen. "Continued weakness in labor markets is limiting work options once people graduate or quit their programs, leading to a steady rise in delinquencies and loan write-offs," Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts said in a statement. U.S. student loan debt reform has become a more pressing issue since the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported in March 2012 that the total surpassed $1 trillion by the end of 2011 and as interest rates on subsidized Stafford loan rates are set to double in July. The cost of earning a 4-year undergraduate degree has gone up by 5.2 percent per year in the last decade, according to the CFPB, forcing more students to take out loans. Read more.
For more information, be sure to register for ABI's "Student Loans: Bankruptcy May Not Have the Answers – But Does Congress?" webinar presented by ABI's Consumer Bankruptcy Committee on April 10 from noon-1:15 ET. Click here for more information.
U.S. CRACKS DOWN ON "FORCED" INSURANCE
A U.S. housing regulator is cracking down on a little-known practice that has hit millions of struggling borrowers with high-price homeowners' insurance policies arranged by banks that benefit from the costly coverage, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, plans to file a notice today to ban lucrative fees and commissions paid by insurers to banks on so-called force-placed insurance. Such "forced" policies are imposed on homeowners whose standard property coverage lapses, typically because the borrower stops making payments. Critics say that the fee system has given banks a financial incentive to arrange more expensive homeowners' policies than are necessary. FHFA's move would apply nationwide to all mortgages guaranteed or owned by Fannie and Freddie—about half of the housing market. Read more. (Subscription required.)
COMMENTARY: IS IT ALREADY TIME TO WEAKEN DODD-FRANK?
A key effort in the Dodd-Frank financial reform act has been to bring transparency and reforms to the complex market of derivatives, but Republicans and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved seven bills that would roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, according to a commentary in Sunday's Washington Post. However, Dodd-Frank's regulation of derivatives is crucially important to alleviate future financial crises and set a proper course for reform, according to the commentary. The bills now headed to the House floor for a vote weaken Title VII of Dodd-Frank, which is the part that regulates derivatives. "Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal," financier Warren Buffett said. Bill Clinton said that he was wrong to avoid regulating derivatives when he had the chance. These financial instruments played a central role in the financial crisis, culminating in the collapse and bailout of AIG. Since Dodd-Frank, there has been extensive debate about the new rules for derivatives, which range from collateral to price transparency. But there has also been a counter-debate about who has to follow the new rules. Those who fall under "end-user exemptions" are largely able to forgo following the Dodd-Frank rules, and the easiest way to understand the bills passed out of the Agriculture Committee is to note that they seek to expand the scope of those exemptions. One bill would weaken cross-border regulations, allowing U.S. firms that run their derivatives in other countries to avoid following the new derivative rules. In the age of electronic trading and overlapping jurisdictions, this limits the ability of regulators to make sure that prudential standards are set in this country. Read more.
LAWSUIT SHEDS LIGHT ON ALLEGED INFLATION OF LEGAL BILL
The thorny issue of law firm billing is at the heart of a lawsuit involving a fee dispute between a law firm and Adam H. Victor, an energy industry executive, the New York Times DealBook blog reported yesterday. After DLA Piper sued Victor for $675,000 in unpaid legal bills, Victor filed a counterclaim, accusing the law firm of a "sweeping practice of overbilling." Victor's feud with DLA Piper began after he retained the firm in April 2010 to prepare a bankruptcy filing for one of his companies. The lawsuit has brought to light e-mails from DLA Piper’s lawyers about how the bill was running way over budget. Another described a colleague’s approach to the assignment as "churn that bill, baby!" Legal ethics scholars said that it is highly unusual to find documentary evidence of possible churning — the creation of unnecessary work to drive up a client's bill. Read more.
HOTEL BLOCK FOR ABI'S ANNUAL SPRING MEETING ALMOST SOLD OUT! REGISTER TODAY!
The hotel block at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., is almost sold out for ABI’s 2013 Annual Spring Meeting! Held April 18-21, 2013, ASM 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. More than 16 hours of CLE/CPE is offered in some states, along with ethics credit totaling 3 hours, making the cost only about $50 per credit. In addition, committee sessions will drill down on other topics to provide you with the most practical and varied CLE/CPE experience ever. Sessions include:
• 17th Annual Great Debates
• Mediation: An Irrational Approach to a Rational Result
• Creditors’ Committees and the Role of Indenture Trustees and Related Issues
• Current Issues for Financial Advisors in Bankruptcy Cases
• The Individual Conundrum: Chapter 7, 11 or 13?
• The Power to Veto Bankruptcy Sales
• Real Estate Issues in Health Care Restructurings
• How to Be a Successful Expert
• The Ethical Compass: Multiple Ethical Schemes Applicable to Financial Advisors
• Chapter 9s, Nonprofits and Other Nontraditional Restructuring Processes
• And much more!
The Spring Meeting will also feature a field hearing of the ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11, a report from the ABI Ethics Task Force, a luncheon panel discussion moderated by Bill Rochelle of Bloomberg News, and a Final Night Gala Dinner featuring a concert by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts!
Make sure to register today!
TEE OFF ON THE NEW ABI GOLF TOUR!
Starting with the Annual Spring Meeting, ABI will offer conference registrants the option to participate in the ABI Golf Tour. The Tour will take place concurrently with all conference golf tournaments. The Tour is designed to enhance the golfing experience for serious golfers, while still offering a fun networking opportunity for players of any ability. As opposed to the format used at ABI’s regular conference events, Tour participants will "play their own ball." They will be grouped on the golf course separately from other conference golf participants and will typically play ahead of the other participants, expediting Tour play. Tour participants will be randomly grouped in foursomes, unless otherwise requested of the Commissioner in advance of each tournament. Prizes will be awarded for each individual Tour event, which are sponsored by Great American Group. The grand prize is the "Great American Cup," also sponsored by Great American Group, which will be awarded to the top player at the end of the Tour season. Registration is free. Click here for more information and a list of 2013 ABI Golf Tour event venues.
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: NORTH AMERICAN BANKING CO. V. LEONARD (IN RE WEB2B PAYMENT SOLUTIONS INC.; 8TH CIR.)
Summarized by Brendan Gage, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern & Western Districts of Arkansas
Affirming the bankruptcy court, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Eighth Circuit held that a creditor loses its possessory lien in deposit accounts when it turns over the account funds to the trustee without requesting a court to adequately protect its lien in the funds.
There are more than 800 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 IS NEXT FOR CREDITORS OF DETROIT?
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post examines the potential next steps for creditors of financially distressed Detroit.
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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