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Analysis Critics of Detroits Bankruptcy Havent Offered Up Alternatives

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | August 22, 2013
 
  

August 22, 2013

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

ANALYSIS: CRITICS OF DETROIT'S BANKRUPTCY HAVEN'T OFFERED UP ALTERNATIVES

Objections to Detroit’s historic chapter 9 bankruptcy have been coming from the usual suspects. But none of them offers to change the fundamental reality facing America’s poorest major city, according to an analysis in The Detroit News on Tuesday. They can’t. Detroit’s government is insolvent and managerially spent, facts unaltered by complaints that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and his team failed to bargain in good faith. One month into the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, it is clear that this won’t be a quick-rinse job akin to the General Motors Corp. or Chrysler LLC bankruptcies — but it is moving along nonetheless. The precedent-setting legal fight’s outcome could have a profound impact on unions, pension funds and the municipal finance market. The stakes are enormous, and financial creditors, unions, pension funds, retirees and ordinary citizens are objecting to Detroit’s bankruptcy filing because there are few opportunities otherwise to do so. Should U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes accept the objections following an eligibility trial scheduled to begin Oct. 23, Orr, the city and their sponsors in Lansing would be back at square one with no Plan B. But experts say that Detroit’s case is progressing relatively rapidly. "For a case of this size — think about how complex it is — it’s moving quickly," says Douglas Bernstein, managing partner of Plunkett Cooney’s banking, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights practice group in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Judge Rhodes is "way quicker than any of the others" in Alabama, California and Rhode Island, "and he’s got the biggest case of them all," Bernstein said. Click here to read the full analysis.

INVESTORS ARE SELLING MUNICIPAL BONDS AGAIN

Municipal bonds usually don’t get much attention unless something’s wrong, but they’re getting attention now, the Associated Press reported today. Investors have been running away from bonds issued by state and local governments for several months, even though they offer tax-free income. The worries began when interest rates started to rise in the spring and heightened after Detroit became the biggest city in the country ever to file for bankruptcy. The selloff is reminiscent of one that smacked municipal bonds in late 2010 and early 2011, following a prediction that a wave of defaults would hit the market. But now, like then, managers of municipal-bond mutual funds say that the worries have created a buying opportunity. Investors who bought in late 2010 did well: The average intermediate-term municipal bond fund returned 9 percent in 2011. Managers say such big gains aren’t likely this year, but long-term municipal bonds can offer tax-free yields of 5 percent and have the potential to increase in price if interest rates don’t take off, says John Miller, co-head of global fixed income for Nuveen Investments. Nearly every municipal bond mutual fund has lost money over the last three months. For a rebound in the municipal bond market to happen, it needs to snap out of the self-feeding selling cycle that has overtaken it. Click here to read the full article.

BANKRUPTCY, EVEN FOR DETROIT, COMES WITH A COST

As if Detroit doesn’t have enough money problems, now the cash-strapped city faces a huge bill from its bankruptcy lawyers — which, according to a Marketplace.org report today, begs the question: Is bankruptcy worth it? For example, Lehman Brothers’s bankruptcy fees topped $2 billion. "It can get very expensive," says Prof. David Skeel of the University of Pennsylvania. He says plenty of bankruptcies cost millions of dollars these days. One reason is that no one wants to speak up. "Nobody that’s in the case wants to rat on somebody else and say, ‘Your fees are way too high,’" he says. Over the past 10 years, Skeel says more companies have decided to fold rather than deal with bankruptcy costs. But there’s also more oversight now, especially since the Department of Justice updated its fee guidelines to make bankruptcy fees more transparent. "I’ll call up the professional and say, ‘Tell me why you made this choice,’" says Prof. Nancy Rapoport of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has been a fee examiner. "Sometimes it’s a great choice. Sometimes we talk about a reduction in fees." Oversight, she says, is essential. "If reasonable fees aren’t being charged, then something is wrong with the system," she says. Click here to read the full article.

In related news, ABI held a webinar on Tuesday about the new U.S. Trustee Fee Guidelines, which will affect all attorneys and firms who work on larger chapter 11 cases filed on or after Nov. 1. Presented by ABI’s Ethics & Professional Compensation Committee, a panel of experts, including Clifford J. White, the director of the U.S. Trustee Program, discussed some of the ways that the new guidelines could change day-to-day operations in firms, issues relating to the new market rate benchmarks, and how these changes might alter insolvency practice. Click here to download a recording of the webinar.

CREDIT CARD DEBT IS FALLING, BUT STILL VERY HIGH

Consumer credit card debt in the U.S. has been edging down in recent years after peaking in July 2008 at $1 trillion (about the size of Mexico's annual GDP), IB Times reported yesterday. According to data from the Federal Reserve, as of July 2013 the average indebted household in the U.S. carries average credit card debt of $15,325, although that figure is somewhat skewed by a small number of extraordinarily debt-stricken families and couples. But that average credit card balance pales in comparison with average mortgage debt ($147,924) and average student loan debt ($32,041). On the whole, American consumers currently owe an aggregate of $856.5 billion in credit card debt. This figure has been falling since the height of the global financial crisis — not just because some debtors are paying off their balances, but also due to rising defaults as credit card companies and banks simply wrote off seriously delinquent debts, a phenomenon that coincided with soaring unemployment and personal bankruptcies. Thus, credit card balances are falling for both good and bad reasons. "Overall, consumers have been much more cautious about spending on credit since the recession; they discovered what overleveraging can do when the economy is struggling," said Leslie Levesque, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. Click here to read the full article.

BILL ON BANKRUPTCY VIDEO: AFSCME SAYS BANKRUPTCY LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL

The AFSCME labor union is opposing the Detroit bankruptcy by contending that the entire municipal bankruptcy scheme violates the U.S. Constitution, as Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia and Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle discuss in their new video. Again this week, Rochelle and Pacchia cover the American Airlines bankruptcy, this time focusing on whether parent AMR Corp. can persuade the bankruptcy judge to approve the reorganization plan before there's resolution to the government's antitrust suit. Rochelle also mentions the newest statistics showing no increase in business for bankruptcy professionals. The video ends with discussion of an important new decision from the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta adopting a new theory for taking assets outside of a bankrupt estate. Click here to watch the video.

ABI GOLF TOUR UNDERWAY; LAST STOP FOR 2013 IS WINTER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN DECEMBER

The 7th and final stop for the 2013 ABI Golf Tour is on Dec. 5 at the Trump National Golf Club, held in conjunction with ABI’s Winter Leadership Conference. Final scoring to win the Great American Cup — sponsored by Great American Group — is based on your top three scores from the seven ABI events. See the Tour page for details and course descriptions. The ABI Golf Tour combines networking with fun competition, as golfers "play their own ball." Including your handicap means everyone has an equal chance to compete for the glory of being crowned ABI's top golfer of 2013! A 22-handicapper won the tour event at July’s Southeast Bankruptcy Workshop. There's no charge to register or participate in the Tour.

ABI IN-DEPTH

ABI’S VOLO PROJECT POSTS 1,000TH CIRCUIT COURT OPINION: PATRIOT COAL CORP. V. PEABODY HOLDING CO. (IN RE PATRIOT COAL CORP.; 8TH CIR.)

ABI now hosts more than 1,000 circuit court opinion summaries on its circuit court first-responder site, volo.abi.org. Appellate opinions are summarized within 24 hours of being issued and are then posted by a team of editors, led by Scott F. Gautier (Peitzman Weg LLP; Los Angeles). Opinion summaries also include links to the full text of each opinion.

Reversing the decision of the bankruptcy court, in Patriot Coal Corp. v. Peabody Holding Co. (In re Patriot Coal Corp.), Case No. 13-6031 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. Aug. 21, 2013), the Eighth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel held that Peabody Holding must continue to pay health care benefits for certain retired miners and dependents who worked for Heritage Coal Co., a Peabody subsidiary that was transferred to Patriot Coal in 2007.

Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.

NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: TAX REFORM PROPOSAL BACKS CREDIT UNIONS INTO A CORNER

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post explains how credit unions’ advocating to keep their tax-exempt status alive merely pass tax increases along to American businesses.

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

A class of claims should not be considered impaired for purposes of § 1129(a)(10) if the impairment results from the plan proponents' exercise of discretion (i.e., artificial impairment) and not driven by economic need. (In re Village at Camp Bowie I LP).

Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.

INSOL INTERNATIONAL

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialize in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 43 member associations worldwide with more than 9,000 professionals participating as members of INSOL International. As a member association of INSOL, ABI's members receive a discounted subscription rate. See ABI's enrollment page for details.

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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

2013

August
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September
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     Sept. 24, 2013
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    Sept. 27, 2013 | Washington, D.C.

October
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    Oct. 4, 2013 | Kansas City, Mo.
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    Oct. 11, 2013 | New York, N.Y.


  


- Chicago Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
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November
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   Nov. 25, 2013 | Wilmington, Del.

December
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    Dec. 5-7, 2013 | Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
- ABI/St. John’s Bankruptcy Mediation Training
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PBGC Says Pension Deficit Widened to Record 34 Billion

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | November 20 2012
 
  

November 20, 2012

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

PBGC SAYS PENSION DEFICIT WIDENS TO RECORD $34 BILLION

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) said that its deficit increased to $34 billion by the end of the most recent fiscal year, its largest ever, Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review reported yesterday. As a result of plan failures, the PBGC said last week that its obligations totaled $119 billion by the end of fiscal 2012, while it has $85 billion in assets on hand to cover them. PBGC Director Joshua Gotbaum said that the agency continues its work to preserve pensions but "continuing financial deficits will ultimately threaten its ability to pay benefits." Read more. (Subscription required.)

BANKS SAY THEY HAVE GIVEN $26 BILLION IN HOMEOWNER RELIEF TO DATE

The nation's biggest banks provided more than $26 billion in relief to struggling homeowners between March 1 and Sept. 30, as part of a settlement earlier this year with state and federal officials over widespread foreclosure abuses, the Washington Post reported today. Joseph A. Smith Jr., the former North Carolina banking commissioner hired by the government to ensure the banks follow through on their promises, reported that more than 300,000 homeowners have benefitted so far, for an average of roughly $84,385 per borrower. The aid undertaken by the five banks involved in the settlement — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Ally Financial and Citigroup — has taken various forms, from lowering loan balances to completing growing numbers of short sales to helping refinance many homeowners into mortgages with much lower interest rates. Each bank is responsible for providing a set amount of aid under the terms of the settlement, but different kinds of relief receive different amounts of credit. In general, banks received more credit for providing aid during the first year of the settlement and for activities such as reducing principal on loans and refinancing mortgages. Read more.

In related news, big banks are giving billions of dollars to distressed California homeowners through a landmark mortgage settlement — but mostly to get people out of their homes rather than help them stay, the Los Angeles Times reported today. Short sales should be reserved for homeowners who couldn't afford to live in a home even with a lower principal or for people who need to move, said UC Irvine law professor Katherine Porter, who was appointed by the state attorney general's office to monitor the deal. The preponderance of short sales in California may change, Porter said, as banks begin delivering other types of mandated relief, namely principal reduction. In California, the three biggest mortgage servicers — Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. — promised to contribute $12 billion worth of homeowner aid. Bank of America is on the hook for the biggest portion of that agreement, $8 billion. Read more.

COMMENTARY: WHEN WILL FANNIE AND FREDDIE PAY TAXPAYERS BACK?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owe American taxpayers nearly $140 billion — and there seems to be no plan on any front to pay it back, according to a commentary in yesterday's New York Times. In the midst of the housing crisis and the Great Recession in 2008, Congress agreed to spend $600 billion in public money to rescue major American banks, insurers, automakers and, yes, the GSE's — fearing an even deeper and longer recession if these companies failed. Since then, most of these bailed-out firms have paid taxpayers back, but not Fannie or Freddie. Even more remarkable than their $140 billion public debt (the money lent to the agencies minus dividends paid) is that there seems to be no active plan to reimburse taxpayers. Read more.

SHADOW BANKING GROWS TO $67 TRILLION INDUSTRY, REGULATORS SAY

The shadow banking industry has grown to about $67 trillion, $6 trillion bigger than previously thought, leading global regulators to seek more oversight of financial transactions that fall outside traditional oversight, Bloomberg news reported on Sunday. The size of the shadow banking system, which includes the activities of money market funds, monoline insurers and off-balance sheet investment vehicles, "can create systemic risks" and "amplify market reactions when market liquidity is scarce," the Financial Stability Board said in a report, which utilized more data than last year’s probe into the sector. While watchdogs have reined in excessive risk-taking by banks in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008, they are concerned that lenders might use shadow banking to evade the clampdown. Read more.

ANALYSIS: MIXED RESULTS FOR SEC IN FINANCIAL CRISIS CASES

Last week was a study in contrasts in how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been able to pursue cases from the financial crisis, according to an analysis yesterday in the New York Times DealBook blog. The regulator has been successful in extracting large settlements from banks that were at the heart of the meltdown in the mortgage market, but it has not done as well in proving any significant wrongdoing by individuals. The SEC announced settlements on Friday with JPMorgan Chase and Credit Suisse over their dealings in residential mortgage-backed securities. JPMorgan will pay $296.9 million and Credit Suisse $120 million in disgorgement and penalties. But it had a much worse week in dealing with individuals accused of securities fraud as a federal jury in New York on Nov.12 largely absolved Bruce Bent Sr. and his son, Bruce Bent II, for statements they made about the money market fund they oversaw, the Reserve Primary Fund. That collapsed at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008. 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 sgerdano@abiworld.org 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.

LATEST ABI PODCAST EXAMINES BANKRUPTCY'S EFFECTS ON MANUFACTURING SUPPLY CHAINS

ABI’s latest podcast features ABI Resident Scholar Prof. Susan Hauser speaking with the authors of Interrupted! Understanding Bankruptcy's Effects on Manufacturing Supply Chains. John T. Gregg, Deborah L. Thorne and Patrick E. Mears of Barnes & Thornburg LLP discuss the book and the issues that arise when suppliers are unable to make deliveries of promised parts due to financial problems. Click here to listen to the podcast.

To purchase Interrupted! Understanding Bankruptcy's Effects on Manufacturing Supply Chains, please make sure to visit the ABI Book Store at http://bookstore.abi.org.

RICHMOND BAR CALLING FOR NOMINATIONS TO FILL JUDICIAL VACANCY; SUBMISSIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY DEC. 13

The Judiciary Committee of the Richmond (Va.) Bar Association invites ABI members to submit nominations to fill a judicial vacancy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The court is looking to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Bankruptcy Judge Douglas O. Tice, Jr.

Suggestions must be in writing and should be mailed to Virginia H. Grigg, Esq., c/o Richmond Bar Association, P.O. Box 1213, Richmond, Virginia 23218 or hand-delivered to her at the Bar office located at 707 E. Main Street, Suite 1620, Richmond, VA 23219. Nominations must be received by 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 13, 2012, in order to be considered.

ABI IN-DEPTH

LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: HAWKS HOLDINGS LLC V. KALINOWSKI (IN RE KALINOWSKI; 10TH CIR.)

Summarized by Steven T. Mulligan of Bieging Shapiro & Barber LLP

The 10th Circuit ruled that since debtor was the de facto manager of an LLC, he stood in a fiduciary relationship to the creditor of that LLC under a New Mexico statute that created a technical trust. Since the debtor’s participation in the mismanagement of funds paid to the LLC for the construction of homes constituted defalcation, the debt was thus excepted from discharge.

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: NINTH CIRCUIT RULES POST-PETITION PAYMENTS RECEIVED BY DEBTOR ARE NOT PROCEEDS OF "PAYMENTS TO BECOME DUE"

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit in LID Acquisition LLC v. Lake at Las Vegas Joint Venture, LLC (In re Lake at Las Vegas Joint Venture, LLC) affirmed the lower courts' rulings that, pursuant to §552(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, a pre-petition security agreement that gives a lender a security interest in "payments" or "future payments" does not give a lender a security interest in post-petition 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

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.

HAVE YOU TUNED IN TO BLOOMBERG LAW'S VIDEO PODCASTS?

Bloomberg Law's video podcasts feature top experts speaking about current bankruptcy topics. The podcasts are available via Bloomberg Law's YouTube channel so that you can access the programs from your computer or device of your choice! Click here to view the Bloomberg Law video podcasts.

INSOL INTERNATIONAL

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialize in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 37 member associations worldwide with more than 9,000 professionals participating as members of INSOL International. As a member association of INSOL, ABI's members receive a discounted subscription rate. See ABI's enrollment page for details.

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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

November
- Winter Leadership Conference
     November 29 - December 1, 2012 | Tucson, Ariz.

December
- Forty-Hour Bankruptcy Mediation Training
     December 4-8, 2012 | New York, N.Y.

2013

January
- Western Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     January 21, 2013 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference
     January 24-25, 2013 | Denver, Colo.


  

 

February
- Caribbean Insolvency Symposium
     February 7-9, 2013 | Miami, Fla.
- Kansas City Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy Practice Institute
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Justice Department Opens JPMorgan Inquiry

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | May 15, 2012
 
  
May 15, 2012
 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OPENS JPMORGAN INQUIRY

The Justice Department has opened an inquiry into JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s $2 billion-plus trading loss, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The probe is at an early stage and it is not clear what possible legal violation federal investigators may be focusing on. Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission began its own review of the matter, examining the company's accounting and disclosures to investors. The trading loss has aroused intense scrutiny in Washington, D.C., where some lawmakers have been fighting efforts by big banks to delay or scale back regulations mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul. Read more. (Subscription required.)

ANALYSIS: BANKS TREAD A FINE LINE IN TRADING

When JPMorgan Chase revealed its $2 billion loss last week, it looked as though the big Wall Street banks were up to their old tricks, using their government-backed funds to make risky trades in a misguided effort to improve their profits, according to an analysis in the New York Times' Dealbook Blog on Sunday. While few other banks pursue the complex strategies that led to JPMorgan's losses, many traditional lenders regularly buy and sell securities, and make bets with derivatives, as part of their core operations. Financial firms say that such activities allow them to earn a basic return on the deposits they collect and to offset risks on their balance sheets. These widespread trading practices are creating a headache for regulators, who are trying to devise new rules to prevent another financial crisis. Regulators are putting the finishing touches on the so-called Volcker Rule, which would ban banks from making speculative bets with their own money. However, regulators face a dilemma when faced with the question of "what constitutes proprietary trading?" Such activities are easy to spot when financial firms run independent trading units devoted to making profits. Already, most big banks have moved to exit these businesses in preparation for the Volcker Rule. Regulators, however, are having a harder time telling when other trading activities — like market-making and portfolio hedging — cross the line. Big banks, even those with little presence on Wall Street, contend that their trading activities are part of prudent risk-management. Without the ability to invest in bonds and other securities, these companies argue that they would not be able to make loans or extend credit as easily. Read more.

DOJ NOT KEEPING STATS ON FINANCIAL CRISIS CONVICTIONS

The Department of Justice has been short on answers for congressional inquiries looking to find out how many executives have been convicted of criminal wrongdoing related to the financial crisis of 2008-09, as the department said that it does not keep count of the numbers of board-level prosecutions, according to a report today in the Wall Street Journal. In a response earlier this month to a March request from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the Justice Department said that it does not hold information on defendants' business titles. "Consequently, we are unable to generate the [requested] comprehensive list" of Wall Street convictions stemming from the 2008 meltdown, the letter from the Department of Justice to Grassley said. Prof. William Black, a former bank regulator, said that the government used to keep these figures. He points to a 1993 report by the Government Accountability Office on the savings-and-loan crisis of a generation ago. The report said that "30 percent of those prosecuted are the major corporate insiders—CEOs, presidents, shareholders, directors and officers" of the affected firms. Some other law-enforcement agencies are keeping a similar tally for the latest financial crisis. The Securities and Exchange Commission highlights on its website its civil crisis-related enforcement actions against senior corporate officers—a total of 55 so far. Read more. (Subscription required.)

In related news, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday titled "Examining the Settlement Practices of U.S. Financial Regulators." Click here to view the witness list.

COMMENTARY: SAYING NO TO STATE BAILOUTS

States that have followed Europe's economic policy model of unbridled spending are getting Europe's economic results: low growth and looming fiscal catastrophe, according to a commentary by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), members of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), in today's Wall Street Journal. Compared with the 10 U.S. states with the lowest rates of economic growth since 1990, according to a JEC report released today, the states with the highest rates of growth had smaller unfunded pension ratios (by 26 percent); lower debt ratios (by 18 percent); less tax revenue collected (by 22 percent); and lower welfare benefits (by 31 percent). The report also shows that over the last decade, states with no income tax have much higher rates of job growth and population growth than states with the highest income taxes. The fuse on the U.S. debt bomb—which according to the National Bureau of Economic Research may be armed with as much as a $211 trillion fiscal shortfall—may prove to be the states' public-employee pension systems, according to the commentary. Years of overly optimistic growth projections, underfunding and overpromising by politicians, according to the commentary, have rendered many of these public pension systems toxic assets on states' books. Read more. (Subscription required.)

REGISTER FOR THE LABOR & EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE'S "EVOLVING LABOR ISSUES IN CHAPTER 11" WEBINAR

Make sure to mark your calendars for May 23 from 2-3:30 p.m. ET for the ABI Labor and Employment Committee's "Evolving Labor Issues in Chapter 11" Webinar. A panel of experts will be discussing recent developments in several large complex bankruptcy cases, including Hostess, Kodak, Nortel and American Airlines. The expert panel includes Babette A. Ceccotti of Cohen, Weiss & Simon LLP (New York), former chief counsel of the PBGC Jeffrey B. Cohen of Bailey & Ehrenberg PLLC (Washington, D.C.), Marc Kieselstein of Kirkland & Ellis LLP (New York) and Ron E. Meisler of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Issues to be discussed include:

• Hostess' efforts to eliminate their multi-employer pension plan contribution liability through motions to reject their labor agreements under Section 1113.
• Kodak's attempt to terminate retiree health benefits.
• The effect of the automatic stay upon efforts by the U.K. Pension Protection Fund and the U.K. Nortel Pension Plan to enforce its powers under the U.K. Pensions Act.
• American Airlines' efforts to reduce legacy costs in bankruptcy.

Click here to register.

U.S. TRUSTEE PROGRAM RE-OPENS COMMENT PERIOD ON PROPOSED GUIDELINES FOR ATTORNEY COMPENSATION IN LARGE CHAPTER 11 CASES

The U.S. Trustee Program has re-opened the comment period until May 21, 2012, on proposed guidelines for reviewing applications for attorney compensation in large chapter 11 cases ("fee guidelines"). The USTP also scheduled a public meeting for June 4, 2012, at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. on the proposed fee guidelines. Click here for more information on submitting comments or attending the public hearing.

ABI IN-DEPTH

JUNE 5 WEBINAR WILL EXAMINE HOW TO HANDLE AN ADMINISTRATIVELY INSOLVENT ESTATE

Panelists from one of the top-rated sessions at the 2011 Winter Leadership Conference are going to reconvene for an ABI and West LegalEd Center webinar on June 5 titled, "Handling the Administratively Insolvent Estate- What to Do When Your Chapter 11 Goes South." CLE credit will be available for the webinar, which will last from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ET.

Speakers include:

Robert J. Feinstein of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (New York)
Cathy Rae Hershcopf of Cooley LLP (New York)
Robert L. LeHane of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP (New York)

Robert J. Keach of Bernstein Shur (Portland, Maine) will be the moderator for the webinar.

The webinar costs $115, and purchase provides online access for 180 days. If you are purchasing a live webcast, you will receive complimentary access to the on-demand version for 180 days once it becomes available. Click here for more information.

LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: MCNEAL V. GMAC MORTGAGE, LLC (IN RE MCNEAL; 11TH CIR.)

Summarized by Melissa Youngman of McCalla Raymer, LLC

The Eleventh Circuit held that a wholly unsecured junior lien on a chapter 7 debtor's home may be "stripped off" pursuant to Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code.

More than 500 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: FURTHER INSIGHT ON HOW THE SUPREME COURT MAY APPROACH CREDIT BIDDING IN THE RADLAX CASE

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A blog post provides further insight on a few approaches that the Supreme Court may take on the credit-bidding issues presented in the RadLAX case.

Hear a discussion of the RadLAX post-argument featuring lead counsel David Neff by clicking here. ABI will hold a webinar on the Court’s decision as soon as it is announced in late June.

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 Constitutional scheme of uniform federal bankruptcy is a bad idea; the states should have more leeway to adopt their own different approaches to financial distress, at least for their own individual citizens and companies with purely intra-state operations. Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.

INSOL INTERNATIONAL

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialize in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 37 member associations worldwide with more than 9,000 professionals participating as members of INSOL International. As a member association of INSOL, ABI's members receive a discounted subscription rate. See ABI's enrollment page for details.

Have a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn Account?

Join our networks to expand yours.

  

 

NEXT EVENT

ABI'S "Evolving Labor Issues in Chapter 11" Webinar
May 23, 2012
Register Today!

COMING UP

 

MEMPHIS 12
June 1, 2012
Register Today!

 

ABI'S "Handling the Administratively Insolvent Estate- What to Do When Your Chapter 11 Goes South?" Webinar
June 5, 2012
Register Today!

 

CS 2012
June 7-10, 2012
Fees Go Up Sunday! Register Today!

 

NE 2012
July 12-15, 2012
Register Today!

 

SE 2012
July 25-28, 2012
Register Today!

 

MA 2012
August 2-4, 2012
Early Bird Rate Expires Friday! Register Today!

 
   
  CALENDAR OF EVENTS

May
- ABI Labor and Employment Committee's "Evolving Labor Issues in Chapter 11" Webinar
     May 23, 2012

June
- Memphis Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     June 1, 2012 | Memphis, Tenn.
- ABI'S "Handling the Administratively Insolvent Estate- What to Do When Your Chapter 11 Goes South?" Webinar
     June 5, 2012
- Central States Bankruptcy Workshop
     June 7-10, 2012 | Traverse City, Mich.

  


July
- Northeast Bankruptcy Conference and Northeast Consumer Forum
     July 12-15, 2012 | Bretton Woods, N.H.
- Southeast Bankruptcy Workshop
     July 25-28, 2012 | Amelia Island, Fla.

August
- Mid-Atlantic Bankruptcy Workshop
     August 2-4, 2012 | Cambridge, Md.

 
 
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Detroit Looks to Reengineer How City Government Works

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | November 11, 2014
 
  

November 11, 2014

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

DETROIT LOOKS TO REENGINEER HOW CITY GOVERNMENT WORKS

The nation's largest municipal bankruptcy case revealed a startling level of dysfunction inside Detroit's government, including meter maids who were required to wear pants without pockets to prevent the theft of city funds and a jury-rigged firehouse alarm system that relied on a fax machine, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. "We found many practices that made no sense," said Chuck Moore, a consultant from restructuring firm Conway MacKenzie Inc. whose team has been embedded in the city's government for more than a year. As the city prepares to exit bankruptcy court, it will have to learn a new approach to providing basic services while staying within its means. Detroit plans to spend $1.7 billion over the next decade to improve services, earmarking about $400 million to tear down abandoned houses, $100 million toward a more reliable bus system, $260 million to make its streets safer and more than $150 million to upgrade outdated technology. "Detroit's inability to provide adequate municipal services runs deep and has for years," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said in his ruling Friday approving the city's restructuring plan, which calls for cutting $7 billion in debt. "It is inhumane and intolerable, and it must be fixed." The process of re-engineering how Detroit works is expected to be bumpy. Financial experts who examined the city's operations say that Detroit remains burdened by out-of-date union rules, local laws and charter provisions. Consequently, Detroit is facing pressure to change the way it does business. Click here to read the full article (subscription required).

Click here to read the transcript of the Oral Opinion on the Record from the Detroit proceedings. To hear a reading of the transcript, click here.

OPPONENTS SAY DETROIT BANKRUPTCY ILLEGAL, PLAN APPEAL

Critics of Michigan's emergency manager law and Detroit's bankruptcy pledged yesterday to keep up their fight against what they called an illegal and immoral attack on a predominantly African-American city, the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday. The groups alleged that the city's bankruptcy exit plan unfairly benefits financial institutions on the backs of retirees of modest means and the poor. Members of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management and other activist groups say that Detroit's bankruptcy amounted to wealthy banks and other investors getting off easily while impoverished Detroiters continue to face deep sacrifices, including losing homes and access to affordable water, and enduring cuts to pensions and health care. The group We the People of Detroit has also spoken out against bankruptcy deals that reduced pensions and health care for city workers and retirees while giving creditors valuable city real estate. Detroit Water and Sewerage Department retiree William Davis, a member of the Detroit Active and Retired City Employees Association, said that he and others in his group were formulating appeals of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes' ruling. Davis, an African-American, said that black Detroiters are bearing the brunt of the bankruptcy, and that few seem to care. "I personally think they all need to go to jail," Davis said of the leaders behind the bankruptcy. "We think this whole process is illegal and just wrong." Click here to read the full article.

ANALYSIS: CAN YOU REALLY END "TOO BIG TO FAIL"?

Taxpayer bailouts of banks will be a thing of the past once rules being hammered out in Switzerland are implemented, or so regulators would have us believe, according to an analysis in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The world's 30 biggest and most systemically important banks will have to hold up to a fifth of their risk-weighted assets in equity or debt on which investors can take losses if total loss-absorbing capacity (TLAC) proposals unveiled Monday by the Financial Stability Board, a Basel-based international regulatory committee, are adopted. The plans, which would be set in place in 2019 at the earliest, are intended to avoid the chaos, confusion and public-sector rescues of private institutions that characterized the financial crisis triggered by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Instead, if one of these institutions runs into problems because it's been badly run, shareholders and investors of its riskiest tranches of debt will have to suffer the losses. But if investors know they'll be rescued ahead of time, markets might tend to break down more often on the theory that people who are insured will take greater risks than they might have otherwise taken. Banks are critical to the efficient running of a market economy in ways other firms aren't, so when a financial crisis hits, the ramifications can be widespread and self-sustaining — and bank failures trigger further failures in a domino effect. Given the moral hazard risk, central banks are keen to ensure that banks have enough capital to bear the costs of their own bad judgment rather than shifting them onto the general population — hence, a 16 to 20 percent buffer, although even that understates the true scale of the buffer, according to banking specialists. Firms forced into liquidation typically sell assets at a discount to the going rate. Factoring those losses in, the actual buffer will be as much as a quarter of risk capital. But will it work? Click here to read the full analysis.

DINGED CREDIT? CARD ISSUERS ARE HAPPY TO LEND

Consumers with dinged credit are back in a borrowing mood, and lenders are more than happy to give them new credit cards, CNBC reported yesterday. Since the Great Recession ended five years ago, consumers have been gradually taking on more debt and lenders have been accommodating them, easing up on tighter standards. Much of the growth has been in so-called non-revolving credit, especially car loans, thanks to record-low interest rates. But revolving credit — mainly in the form of credit cards — is picking up. And the biggest growth in new credit cards is coming from subprime borrowers whose credit scores are less than 660, according to the latest Equifax data. Through July of this year, banks handed out cards to 9.8 million subprime consumers, a six-year high and an increase of 43 percent from the same period last year. Lenders are also giving subprime borrowers higher credit limits. Part of the growth is the result of an easing of the tighter standards that followed the 2008 credit bust after the boom of the early-2000s. Now that banks have repaired the damage from billions of dollars in bad debts, they're better able to take on more risk. As they hand out more accounts and higher limits to consumers with lower credit scores, though, lenders face a higher risk that they won't get paid back. As a result, some card issuers are bracing for a fresh round of bad debts by setting aside more in reserve to cover the cost of charging off unpaid card balances. But card companies are largely banking on profits from issuing new credit cards more than offsetting those higher loan losses. Click here to read the full article.

ANALYSIS: WHAT IF THE MUCH-EXPECTED ECONOMIC GROWTH BURST IS ACTUALLY A BUST?

After last Friday's good news of continued job growth and falling unemployment, economists are starting to wonder aloud how soon unemployment will reach its "natural" or "long-term" rate, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis today. If 5 percent unemployment is achieved in 2015, as some predict, how much room will be left for economic recovery? We've been thinking of the U.S. economy as being below its potential for so many years that it comes as a shock when the data suggest that we might be approaching a new normal, according to the analysis. A working paper by Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon in August lays out the case for pessimism. He runs through several scenarios to try to justify optimistic growth forecasts like that of the Congressional Budget Office. During economic recoveries, growth and employment usually rise hand-in-hand. If the unemployment rate is an accurate indicator, Gordon argues, there is little room left for recovery in growth, and there is little room for improvement in the utilization of industrial capacity, which is only slightly below the levels attained during recent expansions. The last hope for a sudden return of growth is an unexpected boost in productivity. That would be welcome, but there is no reason to expect a sudden change. With the distinct possibility that the long-predicted growth burst will never arrive, policymakers should take seriously warnings about unfunded U.S. obligations and should welcome even small tweaks to policy that could improve efficiency by easing regulations on economic activity. Click here to read the full analysis.

Click here to read Robert Gordon's report, "A New Method of Estimating Potential Real GDP Growth: Implications for the Labor Market and the Debt/GDP Ratio."

USTP NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING ON CHAPTER 11 MONTHLY OPERATING REPORTS

Section 602 of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) authorizes the U.S. Trustee Program (USTP) to issue rules requiring uniform periodic reports by debtors in possession or trustees in non-small business cases under chapter 11. The USTP just published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking public comment on the proposed rule and periodic report forms. The proposed rule is published in the Federal Register at 79 FR 66659 (Nov. 10, 2014) (to be codified at 28 C.F.R. pt. 58). The proposed rule, along with the proposed periodic report forms and instructions, may be viewed on the USTP's website. The proposed rule may also be accessed at www.regulations.gov. All public comments must be submitted on or before January 9, 2015, via www.regulations.gov. Please note that the proposed rule and forms only apply in chapter 11 cases filed by debtors that are not small businesses. Small business debtors are already required to use Official Form 25C, "Small Business Monthly Operating Report."

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: BEST OF ABI 2014 BOOK BUNDLE

Now available for pre-order in the ABI Bookstore is the Best of ABI 2014 book bundle containing The Year in Business Bankruptcy and The Year in Consumer Bankruptcy. These must-have references contain the best ABI Journal articles and papers from ABI's top-rated educational seminars, with Spring 2014 ABI Resident Scholar Prof. Charles Tabb selecting the most important developments in business bankruptcy and Fall 2014 ABI Resident Scholar Prof. Lois Lupica choosing important consumer bankruptcy developments. Make sure to log in to the site to get your discounted ABI member pricing. The ABI member price for each book is $50, but take advantage of this bundle offer and save even more! The books will ship in early December. Click here to order.

NEXT FREE COMMITTEE TELECONFERENCE WILL BE TOMORROW'S ASSET SALES COMMITTEE CALL ON CHAPTER 11 COMMISSION PROPOSAL!

Members are encouraged to dial-in and listen to or participate on upcoming ABI Committee conference calls. While committee membership is encouraged, it is not required to join the free teleconferences. Upcoming committee teleconferences include:

- Asset Sales Committee: Wednesday, Nov. 12; 4 p.m. ET
Topic: "Chapter 11 Reform Commission's Consideration of a Proposal to Surcharge Secured Lenders for 363 Asset Sales"
Speakers: Kathryn A. Coleman of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Gregory A. Bray. Moderator: Risa Wolf-Smith of Holland & Hart LLP.

All committee teleconferences are free to ABI members, and registration is not required. Simply utilize the following dial-in information:

Call in: (712) 432-1500
Participant code: 692933

NEXT ABI LIVE WEBINAR ON NOV. 20 FOCUSES ON PROFESSIONAL FEE CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT

The next abiLIVE webinar will be held on Nov. 20 and will feature a discussion on a case before the Supreme Court that could have a major impact on professional fees for bankruptcy practitioners. In this 75-minute webinar, Thomas J. Salerno of Gordon Silver (Phoenix) and J. Maxwell Tucker of Squire Patton Boggs LLP (Dallas), along with moderator Judge Gregg W. Zive (D. Nev.; Reno, Nevada), will discuss the professional fee issues presented in Baker Botts LLP v. ASARCO LLC, No. 14-103, which was granted certiorari by the Supreme Court on Oct. 2. Click here to register for this important webinar!

ABI MEMBERS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: DON'T MISS TOMORROW'S SPECIAL TMA EVENT TO BENEFIT THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT

ABI members are invited to attend TMA Southern California's special fundraiser to support the Wounded Warrior Project and SoCal veteran support groups on Nov. 12 at the Beverly Hilton. Funds raised will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans Legal Institute and the Public Law Center. For more information or to attend, please click here.

ABI MEMBERS INVITED TO ATTEND RETIREMENT DINNER FOR BANKRUPTCY JUDGE PETER J. WALSH ON NOV. 19

ABI members are invited to a special retirement dinner on Nov. 19 honoring the Hon. Peter J. Walsh's 50 years of dedicated service to the bench and bar. The event will be held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Del., and is being hosted by the Bankruptcy Section of the Delaware State Bar Association and the Delaware Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Questions should be directed to Karen B. Owens at 302-654-1888. To attend, please go to https://sites-pepperhamilton.vuturevx.com/107/772/uploads/judge-walsh-retirement-dinner-form.pdf

ABI MEMBERS WELCOME TO ATTEND TRIBUTE DINNER ON DEC. 11 TO HONOR BANKRUPTCY JUDGE STEVEN W. RHODES

ABI members are invited to attend a tribute dinner honoring the 29 years of service of Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for his commitment to the bench, bar and community. The Tribute Dinner will be held at the Roostertail on the Detroit River and is being hosted by the Bankruptcy Community to honor and celebrate Judge Rhodes' service and career. Please contact David Lerner at (248) 901-4010 for more information. To attend, please go to http://www.cbadetroit.com/events/Judge-Rhodes-USBC-Invite-and-Form.pdf

NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: SUSQUEHANNA BANK V. USA/IRS (IN RE RESTIVO AUTO BODY; 4TH CIR.)

Summarized by Ann Brogan of Crowley, Liberatore, Ryan & Brogan, P.C.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the U.S. District Court for the District of Baltimore affirming an appeal from the bankruptcy court but reversed the lower court, finding that Maryland's relation back statute applied. Instead, the Fourth Circuit upheld the alternative holding of the district court that the Maryland doctrine of equitable conversion gave the bank deed-of-trust priority over the IRS lien.

There are more than 1,500 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: CRAMDOWN HURDLES, AND HOW TO PLAY THE CLASSIFICATION GAME (OR NOT)

A recent blog post takes a look at what happens when an amended reorganization plan creates separate classes of unsecured creditors, and whether it is always reasonable to do so.

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

A single set of mandatory, uniform federal bankruptcy exemptions should be adopted.

Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.

INSOL INTERNATIONAL

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialize in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 43 member associations worldwide with more than 9,000 professionals participating as members of INSOL International. As a member association of INSOL, ABI's members receive a discounted subscription rate. See ABI's enrollment page for details.

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UP NEXT

WLC14
Register Today!

COMING UP

WLC14
Register Today!

MT14
Register Today!

NOLA15
Register Today!

RM14
Register Today!

MT14
Register Today!

VALCON15
Register Today!

MT14
Register Today!

 
   
  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

2014

November
- abiLIVE Webinar
    Nov. 20, 2014

December
- Winter Leadership Conference
    Dec. 4-6, 2014 | Palm Springs, Calif.
- 40-Hour Mediation Training Program
   Dec. 7-11, 2014 | New York

January
- New Orleans Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
    Jan. 19, 2015 | New Orleans
- Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference
    Jan. 22-23, 2015 | Denver

  

 

February
- Caribbean Insolvency Symposium
    Feb. 5-7, 2015 | Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
- VALCON 2015
    Feb. 25-27, 2015 | Las Vegas

March
- Bankruptcy Battleground West
    March 24, 2015 | Los Angeles, Calif.

 

 

 
 
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Mortgage Delinquency Rate in U.S. Decreases to 2008 Levels

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | May 17, 2012
 
  
May 17, 2012
 
home  |  chart of the day  |  blogs  |  bankruptcy code and rules  |  statistics  |  legislative news  |  volo
  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

MORTGAGE DELINQUENCY RATE IN U.S. DECREASES TO 2008 LEVELS

The U.S. mortgage delinquency rate declined in the first quarter to the lowest level since 2008 as lower consumer spending and tighter lending standards resulted in fewer defaults, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. The share of home loans at least 30 days late dropped to 7.4 percent from 7.58 percent in the previous three months, according to a report today from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The rate peaked at 10.1 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and reached its lowest point since the third quarter of 2008, when it was 6.99 percent. The share of homes that had received a foreclosure notice and had not been seized by banks increased to 4.39 percent, up 1 basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, from the previous quarter, the MBA reported. Read more.

FITCH WARNS BANKS MUST RAISE $566 BILLION IN NEW CAPITAL

The world's largest banks must raise a combined $566 billion to satisfy new capital requirements, Fitch Ratings said today, as the authorities demand that banks hold more cash in reserve to protect against future financial shocks, the New York Times' DealBook blog reported. The figure represents a 23 percent increase on what the banks currently hold in reserve and will most likely reduce return on equity, a critical figure used to gauge a firm's profitability, Fitch said. The banks affected are the 29 "systemically important financial institutions" as designated by the global Financial Stability Board. Read more.

U.S. SENATE PANEL TO LOOK AT DERIVATIVES REGULATION NEXT WEEK

Derivatives regulators are likely to be questioned about their oversight of complex trades at JPMorgan Chase & Co., which resulted in a more than $2 billion loss, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, Dow Jones Newswires reported today. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler are scheduled to appear at a hearing about implementation of the derivatives regulatory regime laid out in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. On Monday, the panel's Democratic chairman, Sen. Tim Johnson (S.D.), announced upcoming hearings on financial regulation at which the JPMorgan trades are "expected to be discussed," but not a specific inquiry into the company's loss. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) on Tuesday called for JPMorgan Chief Executive James Dimon to come to the Hill for a hearing specifically to look into the trades. The House Financial Services Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing, but Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) on Tuesday called for one to look into the losing trades. Read more.

COMMENTARY: THE DANGER WITH BIG BANKS

Taxpayer safety nets such as the FDIC should be available only to banks that are in the loan business, not those in the investment business, according to a commentary in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. In 1970, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the five largest U.S. institutions owned 17 percent of banking industry assets; in 2010 that share was 52 percent. As the financial crisis of 2008 showed, the very diversification, structure and size of most of our largest banks put the their assets at tremendous risk, according to the commentary, leaving the government no recourse but to rescue them. Harvey Rosenblum, the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank's executive vice president and director of research, wrote last year that "these rescues have penalized equity holders while protecting bondholders and, to a lesser extent, bank managers." In other words, by protecting people from the consequences of their errors, the bailouts raised the risk that the same errors will be made in the future. Taxpayer safety-net programs, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), should be available only to banks in business to provide insured deposits, according to the commentary. Financial institutions that primarily provide investment, hedging and speculative services do not deserve protection either by the FDIC's explicit guarantees or by an implicit understanding that taxpayers will bail them out because there is no other alternative. Read the full commentary. (Subscription required.)

MORTGAGE-BOND TRANSPARENCY PLAN MEETS RESISTANCE FROM TRADERS

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's (FINRA) latest plan to increase transparency in a corner of the $6.5 trillion mortgage-bond market is meeting resistance from Wall Street’s largest lobbying group, Bloomberg News reported today. Investors and dealers are concerned that the level of detail FINRA proposes to publish on trades of government-backed securities as so-called specified pools will reveal shifts in strategy because individual bonds are often owned by only one holder, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. The group is pushing for a "masking" of a bond's unique identifier, known as a CUSIP, as FINRA adds trade-by-trade disclosures including prices to its Trade Compliance and Reporting Engine. Read more.

REGISTER FOR THE LABOR & EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE'S "EVOLVING LABOR ISSUES IN CHAPTER 11" WEBINAR

Make sure to mark your calendars for May 23 from 2-3:30 p.m. ET for the ABI Labor and Employment Committee's "Evolving Labor Issues in Chapter 11" Webinar. A panel of experts will be discussing timely developments in several large complex bankruptcy cases, including Hostess, Kodak, Nortel and American Airlines. The expert panel includes Babette A. Ceccotti of Cohen, Weiss & Simon LLP (New York), former chief counsel of the PBGC Jeffrey B. Cohen of Bailey & Ehrenberg PLLC (Washington, D.C.), Marc Kieselstein of Kirkland & Ellis LLP (New York) and Ron E. Meisler of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Sam Alberts of SNR Denton (Washington, D.C.) will be the moderator for the program. Issues to be discussed include:

• Hostess' efforts to eliminate their multi-employer pension plan contribution liability through motions to reject their labor agreements under Section 1113.
• Kodak's attempt to terminate retiree health benefits.
• The effect of the automatic stay upon efforts by the U.K. Pension Protection Fund and the U.K. Nortel Pension Plan to enforce its powers under the U.K. Pensions Act.
• American Airlines' efforts to reduce legacy costs in bankruptcy.

Click here to register.

COMMENT PERIOD CLOSES MONDAY ON THE U.S. TRUSTEE PROGRAM’S PROPOSED GUIDELINES FOR ATTORNEY COMPENSATION IN LARGE CHAPTER 11 CASES

The U.S. Trustee Program has re-opened the comment period until May 21, 2012, on proposed guidelines for reviewing applications for attorney compensation in large chapter 11 cases ("fee guidelines"). The USTP also scheduled a public meeting for June 4, 2012, at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. on the proposed fee guidelines. Click here for more information on submitting comments or attending the public hearing.

ABI IN-DEPTH

JUNE 5 WEBINAR WILL EXAMINE HOW TO HANDLE AN ADMINISTRATIVELY INSOLVENT ESTATE

Panelists from one of the top-rated sessions at the 2011 Winter Leadership Conference are going to reconvene for an ABI and West LegalEd Center webinar on June 5 titled, "Handling the Administratively Insolvent Estate- What to Do When Your Chapter 11 Goes South." CLE credit will be available for the webinar, which will last from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ET.

Speakers include:

Robert J. Feinstein of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (New York)
Cathy Rae Hershcopf of Cooley LLP (New York)
Robert L. LeHane of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP (New York)

Robert J. Keach of Bernstein Shur (Portland, Maine) will be the moderator for the webinar.

The webinar costs $115, and purchase provides online access for 180 days. If you are purchasing a live webcast, you will receive complimentary access to the on-demand version for 180 days once it becomes available. Click here for more information.

LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: SENIOR TRANSEASTERN LENDERS V. OFFICIAL COMMITTEE OF UNSECURED CREDITORS (IN RE TOUSA INC.; 11TH CIR.)

Summarized by Summer Chandler of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

The Eleventh Circuit reversed the order of the district court, affirmed the liability findings of the bankruptcy court, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. Specifically, the Eleventh Circuit held that the bankruptcy court did not clearly err when it found that certain debtor subsidiary entities (the "Conveying Subsidiaries”) of debtor TOUSA, Inc. (TOUSA) had not received reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the liens they conveyed to secure loans used to pay a debt owed only by TOUSA, such that the liens could be avoided as fraudulent transfers; and (2) the Transeastern Lenders (defined below) who had received loan proceeds secured by such liens were entities “for whose benefit” the Conveying Subsidiaries transferred the liens, such that recovery could be sought from the Transeastern Lenders pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 550(a)(1). Finally, the Eleventh Circuit declined to consider the remedies ordered by the bankruptcy court and matters related to judicial assignment and consolidation because those issues had not yet been considered by the district court and remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

More than 500 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: FURTHER EXAMINATION OF RESCAP'S BANKRUPTCY FILING

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post provides further examination of Ally Financial Inc’s mortgage unit, Residential Capital's (ResCap), bankruptcy filing on Monday.

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 Constitutional scheme of uniform federal bankruptcy is a bad idea; the states should have more leeway to adopt their own different approaches to financial distress, at least for their own individual citizens and companies with purely intra-state operations. Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.

INSOL INTERNATIONAL

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialize in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 37 member associations worldwide with more than 9,000 professionals participating as members of INSOL International. As a member association of INSOL, ABI's members receive a discounted subscription rate. See ABI's enrollment page for details.

Have a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn Account?

Join our networks to expand yours.

  

 

NEXT EVENT

ABI'S "Evolving Labor Issues in Chapter 11" Webinar
May 23, 2012
Register Today!

COMING UP

 

MEMPHIS 12
June 1, 2012
Register Today!

 

ABI'S "Handling the Administratively Insolvent Estate- What to Do When Your Chapter 11 Goes South" Webinar
June 5, 2012
Register Today!

 

CS 2012
June 7-10, 2012
Fees Go Up Sunday! Register Today!

 

NE 2012
July 12-15, 2012
Register Today!

 

SE 2012
July 25-28, 2012
Register Today!

 

MA 2012
August 2-4, 2012
Early Bird Rate Expires Friday! Register Today!

 
   
  CALENDAR OF EVENTS

May
- ABI Labor and Employment Committee's "Evolving Labor Issues in Chapter 11" Webinar
     May 23, 2012

June
- Memphis Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     June 1, 2012 | Memphis, Tenn.
- ABI'S "Handling the Administratively Insolvent Estate- What to Do When Your Chapter 11 Goes South" Webinar
     June 5, 2012
- Central States Bankruptcy Workshop
     June 7-10, 2012 | Traverse City, Mich.

  


July
- Northeast Bankruptcy Conference and Northeast Consumer Forum
     July 12-15, 2012 | Bretton Woods, N.H.
- Southeast Bankruptcy Workshop
     July 25-28, 2012 | Amelia Island, Fla.

August
- Mid-Atlantic Bankruptcy Workshop
     August 2-4, 2012 | Cambridge, Md.

 
 
ABI BookstoreABI Endowment Fund ABI Endowment Fund
 

Too-Big-to-Fail Claim Disputed by Bank Groups

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | March 12 2013
 
  

March 12, 2013

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

"TOO-BIG-TO FAIL" CLAIM DISPUTED BY BANK GROUPS

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."

Click here to read the full commentary. (Subscription required.)

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.)

Click here to review the bill text of H.R. 982, the "Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013" introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), which will be examined tomorrow at a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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.

To read Prof. Foohey's study, please click here.

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.

ABI IN-DEPTH

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.

INSOL INTERNATIONAL

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialize in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 37 member associations worldwide with more than 9,000 professionals participating as members of INSOL International. As a member association of INSOL, ABI's members receive a discounted subscription rate. See ABI's enrollment page for details.

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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

2013

March
- Bankruptcy Battleground West
     March 22, 2013 | Los Angeles, Calif.

April
- ABI Live Webinar: "Legacy Liabilities : Dealing with Environmental, Pension, Union and Similar Types of Claims"
     April 5, 2013
- ABI Live Webinar: "Student Loans: Bankruptcy May Not Have the Answers - But Does Congress?"
     April 10, 2013
- "Nuts and Bolts" Program at ASM
     April 18, 2013 | National Harbor, Md.
- Annual Spring Meeting
     April 18-21, 2013 | National Harbor, Md.


  

 

May
- "Nuts and Bolts" Program at NYCBC
     May 15, 2013 | New York, N.Y.
- ABI Endowment Cocktail Reception
     May 15, 2013 | New York, N.Y.
- New York City Bankruptcy Conference
     May 16, 2013 | New York, N.Y.
- Litigation Skills Symposium
     May 21-24, 2013 | Dallas, Texas

June
- Memphis Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     June 7, 2013 | Memphis, Tenn.
- Central States Bankruptcy Workshop
     June 13-16, 2013 | Grand Traverse, Mich.

July
- Northeast Bankruptcy Conference and Northeast Consumer Forum
     July 11-14, 2013 | Newport, R.I.
- Southeast Bankruptcy Workshop
     July 18-21, 2013 | Amelia Island, Fla.


 
 
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Analysis Volcker Rule Shows Its Wide Reach

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | December 12, 2013
 
  

December 17, 2013

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

ANALYSIS: VOLCKER RULE SHOWS ITS WIDE REACH

Financial institutions and investors are scrambling to line up a new way to finance municipal-bond investments, with the week-old Volcker Rule set to curtail banks' dealings in tender-option bonds --a $75 billion niche of the market for debt issued by cities, states and local governments, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Meanwhile, more than a dozen small and midsize banks will likely need to sell collateralized debt obligations under a Volcker Rule provision limiting certain risky bank investments, according to analysts. Zions Bancorp of Salt Lake City said yesterday that it would have to sell some CDOs and that it would take a $387 million charge to write down the value of the securities. The Volcker Rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, will force giant banks to rethink virtually every aspect of their trading activities. Many banks have already sold, wound down or spun off such restricted activities as proprietary-trading desks that make wagers with the bank's own money. In a tender-option bond transaction, banks, hedge funds and others use short-term borrowings to fund the purchase of long-term muni bonds. The hope is that they will profit from the difference in the interest they pay lenders -- often money-market funds -- and what they earn on the muni bonds. The market is a fraction of the $3.7 trillion municipal-debt universe, but the debt has been popular with large investment firms such as OppenheimerFunds, Nuveen Asset Management and Eaton Vance, which often use the debt in leveraged strategies that aim to boost returns using borrowed money. Read more. (Subscription required.)

While the Volcker Rule was intended to prevent banks from "engaging as principal for the trading account of the banking entity in any purchase or sale of one or more financial instruments," it contains only a minimal enforcement mechanism, according to a commentary in yesterday's New York Times DealBook blog. The rule contains a list of exemptions, including trades made for liquidity purposes and market-making activity for customers. Even a hedging transaction is still permitted, as long as it is "designed to reduce or otherwise significantly mitigate and demonstrably reduce or otherwise significantly mitigate specific, identifiable risks." From an enforcement perspective, the heart of the Volcker Rule is the requirement that banks put in place extensive procedures to comply with the prohibition on proprietary trading. This will impose significant costs on banks that engage in the types of transactions that could run afoul of the Volcker Rule. If a bank engages in prohibited proprietary trading, it can be required to divest itself of the investment and be restricted from future trading of that type. But there is no separate punishment incorporated into the rule for violations, despite suggestions that the rule include its own schedule of civil penalties. Read more.

COMMENTARY: THE HIDDEN DANGER IN PUBLIC PENSION FUNDS

The threat that public-employee pensions pose to state and local government finances is well known, but less known is that pensions are larger and their investments riskier than at any point since public employees began unionizing in earnest nearly half a century ago, according to a commentary in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Public pensions have long been advertised as offering generous, guaranteed benefits for public employees while collecting low and stable contributions from taxpayers. But with Detroit's bankruptcy filing citing $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, and with four of the five largest municipal bankruptcies in U.S. history occurring over the past two years, reality tells us otherwise. According to the commentary, public pensions pose roughly 10 times more risk to taxpayers and government budgets than they did in 1975. In that year, state and local pension assets were equal to 49 percent of annual government expenditures, according to the commentary. Pension assets have nearly tripled to 143 percent of government outlays today. That's not because plans are better funded -- today's plans are no better funded than in 1980 -- but mostly because pension plans have grown as public workforces have aged. The ratio of active public employees to retirees has fallen drastically, according to the State Budget Crisis Task Force. Today it is 1.75 to 1; in 1950, it was 7 to 1. This means that a loss in pension investments has three times the impact on state and local budgets than it would have had 40 years ago. Read more. (Subscription required.)

ANALYSIS: INSIDERS OFFER VIEW OF HOW BOFA STYMIED NEEDY HOMEOWNERS

Bank of America, led by Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, faced more than 15,000 complaints in 2010 from its role in the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Bloomberg News reported yesterday. Urban Lending, one of the vendors brought in to handle grievances from lawmakers and regulators on behalf of borrowers, also operated a mail-processing center for HAMP documents. Instead of helping homeowners as promised under agreements with the U.S. Treasury Department, Bank of America stalled them with repeated requests for paperwork and incorrect income calculations, according to nine former Urban Lending employees. Some borrowers were sent into foreclosure or pricier loan modifications padded with fees resulting from the delays, all but two of whom asked to remain anonymous because they signed confidentiality agreements. HAMP was the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's attempt to prevent foreclosures by lowering distressed borrowers' mortgage payments. Under the program, homeowners are given trial modifications to prove they can make reduced payments before the changes become permanent. Relying on the same industry that sold shoddy mortgages during the housing bubble and improperly sped foreclosures afterward, HAMP resulted in still-active modifications for 905,663 homeowners as of the end of August, or 13 percent of the 6.9 million people who applied. Bank of America stands out in a program that lawmakers and former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair have called a failure, leaving many homeowners worse off. The second-largest U.S. lender canceled more trial modifications than any mortgage firm and sent the highest percentage of rejected customers into foreclosure, Treasury data show. Read more.

WORKPLACE LOANS GAIN IN POPULARITY

Since 2010, at least half a dozen nonbank lenders have started marketing loans to companies and payroll vendors, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Employer-based loan programs are now available to more than 100,000 workers, according to estimates drawn from several lenders. That number could expand to more than 10 million workers in the next few years based on projections provided by company executives. The firms are part of a broader push by shadow lenders to take a growing share of the traditional banking business. Banks have toughened their lending standards since the financial crisis, leaving small companies and individual borrowers with battered or insufficient credit histories to search elsewhere for loans. Pitched as the financial equivalent of a health-wellness program, employer-loan programs often include online tools aimed at improving borrowers' budgeting abilities. Employers typically offer the loans without collecting a fee for themselves. They say that their goal is to help their employees lead more stable financial lives, alleviating the workplace disruptions that financial stress can cause for workers. While borrowers have various options to pay back their loans, the most common method is through automatic payments from an employee's paycheck. Some consumer advocates, however, say that could make it harder for borrowers to pay other bills if they run into financial difficulties. Read more. (Subscription required.)

SEC ORDERS $3.4 BILLION IN PENALTIES IN FISCAL 2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission said that its enforcement division opened 13 percent more investigations in the latest fiscal year and ordered violators of SEC rules to pay a total of $3.4 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The SEC said these monetary sanctions were 10 percent higher than the prior year's penalties and 22 percent more than in 2011, when the SEC filed the most actions in its history. For the year ended in September, the agency filed 686 enforcement actions and opened 908 investigations. Read more. (Subscription required.)

LATEST ABI PODCAST TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW UNSECURED CREDITOR RECOVERIES DECREASED POST-BAPCPA

The latest ABI Podcast features ABI Resident Scholar Kara Bruce speaking with Prof. Lois Lupica of the University of Maine School of Law, who was the reporter and principal investigator for "The Consumer Bankruptcy Creditor Distribution Study" funded by the ABI Endowment. Lupica, who also authored the ABI Endowment-funded Consumer Bankruptcy Fee Study in 2011, talks about the results of the new study, which found that creditor returns in consumer bankruptcy proceedings have been less effective since the implementation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). Click here to listen to the podcast.

To access a copy of "The Consumer Bankruptcy Creditor Distribution Study," please click here.

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: BEST OF ABI 2013: THE YEAR IN CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY

Now available for pre-order in the ABI Bookstore is Best of ABI 2013: The Year in Consumer Bankruptcy. This must-have reference contains the best ABI Journal articles and papers from ABI's top-rated educational seminars selected by ABI Board Member Alane Becket of Becket & Lee LLP (Malvern, Pa.) to cover the most important developments in consumer bankruptcy for 2013. The book delves into such timely topics as the foreclosure crisis, tax issues, the latest on chapter 13, student loans and much more, and it also features relevant case summaries drawn from ABI's Volo site (volo.abi.org). Make sure to log into www.abi.org to get your discounted ABI member pricing. The book will ship in late December. Click here to order.

RENEW YOUR ABI MEMBERSHIP BY DEC. 31 AND SAVE!

Beginning in January 2014, ABI will institute its first dues increase to the regular dues rate in six years. The $20 increase will ensure that ABI can continue to provide you with the latest and most effective tools available in insolvency information and education. You can lock in 2013 rates, and additional discounts, for up to three years by using a multi-year renewal option (save $75!). You can also save 10 percent on future dues by opting into the automated dues program. To renew your membership and save, please go to renew.abi.org.

ABI LAUNCHES SIXTH ANNUAL WRITING COMPETITION FOR LAW STUDENTS

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.

ABI IN-DEPTH

NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: ATAYDE V. FECO (IN RE ATAYDE; 9TH CIR.)

Summarized by Samuel Schwartz of The Schwartz Law Firm Inc.

The Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the holding of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, finding that the lower court did not abuse its discretion when it: a) awarded the debtor $300 for actual damages, $3,000 in attorneys' fees and $390 in costs; and b) found that although the debtor's real estate agent was a petition preparer, the real estate agent's broker was not, and thus, was not a proper defendant.

There are more than 1,000 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: HOUSE-PASSED INNOVATION ACT WOULD MAKE MAJOR CHANGES TO §365(n)'S IP LICENSEE PROTECTIONS

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks more than 80 bankruptcy-related blogs. The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 5 passed a significant patent reform bill known as the "Innovation Act." Although the focus of the legislation is on patent infringement litigation and other patent law revisions, the Innovation Act, H.R. 3309, would also make major changes to §365(n) of the Bankruptcy Code. It would also address the interplay between §365(n) and chapter 15 cross-border bankruptcy cases.

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

Electricity qualifies as a "good" entitled to administrative expense status under § 503(b)(9).

Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.

INSOL INTERNATIONAL

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialize in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 43 member associations worldwide with more than 9,000 professionals participating as members of INSOL International. As a member association of INSOL, ABI's members receive a discounted subscription rate. See ABI's enrollment page for details.

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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

2014

January
- Western Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
    Jan. 20, 2014 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference
    Jan. 23-24, 2014 | Denver, Colo.

February
- Caribbean Insolvency Symposium
    Feb. 6-8, 2014 | San Juan, P.R.

  


- VALCON14
    Feb. 26-28, 2014 | Las Vegas, Nev.

March
- Bankruptcy Battleground West
    March 11, 2014 | Los Angeles, Calif.
- Alexander L. Paskay Memorial
Bankruptcy Seminar

    March 13-15, 2014 | Tampa, Fla.


 
 
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Feds Find Racial Hostility Discrimination to Be Rampant Inside CFPB

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | August 28, 2014
 
  

August 28, 2014

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

FEDS FIND RACIAL HOSTILITY, DISCRIMINATION TO BE RAMPANT INSIDE CFPB

America's newest federal agency, charged with regulating financial institutions to prevent another hostile economic downturn, is reportedly having trouble regulating hostilities and discrimination among its own employees, the Washington Times reported yesterday. Evidence gathered by congressional investigators, internal agency documents and Washington Times interviews with workers discloses scores of cases of U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau employees seeking protection from racially offensive, sexist or discriminatory behavior, including: (1) a naturalized U.S. citizen with more than a decade of service with the U.S. government was called an "f'ing foreigner" by management; (2) a department was internally dubbed "the Plantation" because of the number of African Americans working in it — all supervised by white managers — without any obvious promotional track or way to get transferred; (3) white employees were twice as likely as minorities to get the most favorable personnel ratings in employee reviews; and (4) managers intimidated and retaliated against employees for voicing complaints or offering an alternative point of view — from denying vacation requests to hiring unqualified friends to supervise jobs and then asking subordinates to train them. The CFPB acknowledges its employees' complaints about a hostile working environment and says it is working with the National Treasury Employees Union — which represents CFPB employees — to settle worker protests and iron out new performance reviews, which are at the heart of many of the protests. However, current CFBP employees say that more work needs to be done. Click here to read the full article.

SEC TIGHTENS RULES ON CREDIT RATING AGENCIES, ASSET-BACKED SECURITIES

The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday approved final rules cracking down on credit rating agencies and asset-backed securities — two areas that SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said were "at the center of the financial crisis," according to an article in yesterday's ThinkAdvisor. In her opening remarks at the SEC open meeting at the agency's Washington headquarters, White said that the final rules in the "two closely related areas" give investors "powerful new tools" for independently evaluating the quality of asset-backed securities and credit ratings. "ABS issuers and rating agencies will be held accountable under significant new rules governing their activities," said White, adding that the issuance of "flawed credit ratings by certain credit rating agencies was a key contributor to the financial crisis." Since 2011, SEC staffers have annually examined each of the nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs) registered with the SEC, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act. "While the reports from these reviews have catalogued a number of improvements, they have also identified concerns that persist, including ones related to the management of conflicts of interest, internal supervisory controls, and post-employment activities of former staff of NRSROs," White said. Click here to read the full article.

EXECUTIVES TO BE HELD MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR GOING-CONCERN DISCLOSURES

Corporate managers will have to make more uniform disclosures when there is substantial doubt about their business's ability to survive, the Financial Accounting Standards Board said yesterday, according to a Wall Street Journal blog yesterday. The FASB updated U.S. accounting rules, effective by the end of 2016, to define management's responsibility for evaluating whether their business will be able to continue operating as a "going concern" and to make relevant disclosures in financial statement footnotes. Previously, there were no specific rules under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and disclosures were largely up to auditors. Investors, however, have grown frustrated with the lack of going-concern opinions during the financial crisis; such missing opinions, they believe, failed to warn them of impending bankruptcies. The FASB first issued a proposal at the peak of the financial crisis in 2008, but debate and revisions delayed the final standard, which didn't go up for a vote until May. Supporters of the changes have argued that corporate managers have better information about a company's ability to continue financing their operations than auditors do. Click here to read the full article.

ANALYSIS: MORTGAGE CRISIS IS ABOUT TO FLARE UP AGAIN

We are nearly eight years removed from the beginnings of the foreclosure crisis, and since it began, more than five million homes have been lost. So it would be natural to believe that the crisis has receded. Statistics point in that direction. Financial analyst CoreLogic reports that the national foreclosure rate fell to 1.7 percent in June, down from 2.5 percent a year ago. But these numbers are likely to reverse next year, with foreclosures spiking again, according to an analysis in the New Republic Sunday. A series of temporary relief measures and legacy issues from the crisis will begin to bite in 2015, causing home repossessions that could present economic headwinds. In other words, the foreclosure crisis was never solved; it was deferred. The problem comes from many different angles. Home equity lines of credit will start to feature increased payments, as borrowers must pay back principal instead of just the interest. In addition, the relief offered by the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which provided temporary interest rate easing to borrowers, will start running out, and interest rates will start rising about 1 percent each year. Analysts also believe that the foreclosure backlog, mostly in states that require a court ruling to foreclose, will finally unclog in the coming years, which might already be happening. Despite the mostly rosy statistics, foreclosure activity did rise 2 percent from June to July after months of reductions, a potentially troubling omen of things to come. Click here to read the full analysis.

POOR CITIES CAN GET HIGH CREDIT RATINGS

Detroit's bankruptcy case cast a cloud of doubt over other U.S. cities with large populations of poor residents, but a surprising number of them are in relatively good financial shape, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. In a new report, Moody's Investors Service found that 27 of the 50 poorest large cities are rated relatively high in their ability to pay back debts and manage their long-term needs. "Poverty is something that we get asked about a lot," said Moody's Thomas Compton, an analyst and co-author of the report. "What we found is that contrary to what a lot of people may think, just because there is a high poverty rate it doesn't mean that you're going to have low credit quality." Poverty can lead to paltry tax revenues and an increased need for municipal services, making debt repayment a challenge. But the cities with high poverty rates and relatively high credit ratings — Provo, Utah, and Dayton, Ohio, among them — have achieved some combination of a large and diverse tax base, strong finances, stable government and controlled costs, according to Moody's. Cities with a lot of poor people also may have a lot of rich people, and other entities may chip in to pay for the kind of costly social services associated with the poor. But although many cities manage high poverty rates effectively, Moody's noted that poverty does remain a challenge to local governments. Click here to read the full article (subscription required).

COMMENTARY: HOW WOULD THE FED RAISE RATES?

While central bankers at the Jackson Hole symposium on Friday heard a lot of talk from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen about the labor market, over which central bankers have proved to have only limited influence, they heard very little about global asset inflation, over which they could have a lot of influence. Yet the Fed does not appear to be inclined to exercise such influence, according to a Wall Street Journal commentary Tuesday. Yellen said that the time is not yet right to raise short-term interest rates, which would end six years of a near-zero policy and restore something more closely resembling financial normality. Given the risks of a resulting stock market crash or political uproar, it may not happen even next year unless some crisis, internal or external to the Fed, forces Yellen's hand. Meanwhile, savers and investors will continue to be denied a proper return on their investments and multibillion-dollar pension funds will flirt with insolvency, according to the commentary. A question mostly unasked at Jackson Hole is a crucial part of today's when-will-it-happen guessing game: Exactly how will the Fed go about draining liquidity if a burst of inflation urgently presented that necessity? Click here to read the full commentary (subscription required).

WHY PACER REMOVED ACCESS TO CASE ARCHIVES OF FIVE COURTS

PACER is most often the first stop for downloading public court records, which has led some freedom-of-information advocates to criticize the electronic service — and try to create some public archives outside of it. However, on Aug. 10, the database announced the removal of access to certain case files — and not just a handful, but entire categories of documents coming from five courts, according to a Washington Post blog Tuesday. The move affects archived files in Second, Seventh, Eleventh and Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals, as well as the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. Charles Hall, a spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said that the change was made in preparation for an overhaul of the PACER architecture, including the implementation of the next generation of the Judiciary's Case Management and Electronic Case Files System. However, as a result of the changes, the locally developed legacy case-management systems of some courts are no longer compatible with PACER, according to Hall, although he added that the dockets and documents no longer available through the system could still be obtained directly from the relevant court, and that "all open cases, as well as any new filings, will continue to be available on PACER." But that also means that it is much harder for the public to access historical records — and the lack of forewarning left some legal and technical experts reeling. Click here to read the full article.

NEW TO THE LAW PROFESSION? LAW FIRM RECENTLY ADD NEW ASSOCIATES TO THE RANKS? BE SURE TO PRE-ORDER ABI'S SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE NEW LAWYER!

Available now for pre-order in ABI's Bookstore is the Survival Guide for the New Lawyer: What They Didn't Teach You in Law School. The Survival Guide provides real-world guidance on the everyday aspects of practicing law, with a special emphasis on bankruptcy law. Full of anecdotal examples and hard-earned advice, this Guide is perfect for the aspiring lawyer fresh out of law school, or for any firm that wants to give its associates a leg up on the competition. Click here to pre-order, and be sure to log in first to obtain the ABI member discount!

NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: MERUELO V. REORGANIZED MERUELO MADDUX PROP. INC. (IN RE MERUELO MADDUX PROP. INC.; 9TH CIR.)

Summarized by Elie Herman

The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel vacated the order of the bankruptcy court for abuse of discretion in applying the "reasonableness" standard under § 502(b)(4) to a post-petition claim for administrative expense based on an unpaid severance and unpaid bonus, rather than the "actual and necessary" standard set forth in § 503(b)(1), and the BAP remanded for application of the proper standard.

There are more than 1,400 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: HOW THE MOMENTIVE RULING HAS SHAKEN UP DEBT MARKETS

A recent post discusses Tuesday's ruling in the Momentive Performance Materials Inc. case, and how it has rattled the distressed-investing world.

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

SARE cases should not be allowed in chapter 11.

Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.

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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

2014

September
- Southwest Bankruptcy Conference
    Sept. 4-6, 2014 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- abiLIVE Webinar: Understanding Make-Whole and No Call Provisions
    Sept. 9, 2014 |
- Golf & Tennis Outing
    Sept. 9, 2014 | Maplewood, N.J.
- CARE Financial Literacy Conference
    Sept. 11-13, 2014 | Dallas, Texas
- ABI Workshop: Lending to Distressed Companies
    Sept. 15, 2014 | Alexandria, Va.
- Lawrence P. King and Charles Seligson Workshop on Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization
    Sept. 17-18, 2014 | New York, N.Y.

October
- abiWorkshop: Government Contracting and Bankruptcy
    Oct. 6, 2014 | Alexandria, Va.
- Midwestern Bankruptcy Institute
    Oct. 16-17, 2014 | Kansas City, Mo.

  

 

- Views from the Bench
    Oct. 24, 2014 | Washington, D.C.
- Claims-Trading Program
    Oct. 30, 2014 | New York, N.Y.
- International Insolvency & Restructuring Symposium
    Oct. 30-31, 2014 | London

November
- Complex Financial Restructuring Program
    Nov. 6, 2014 | Philadelphia
- Corporate Restructuring Competition
    Nov. 6-7, 2014 | Philadelphia
- Chicago Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
    Nov. 11, 2014 | Chicago, Ill.
- Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
    Nov. 11, 2014 | Troy, Mich.
- Mid-Level Professional Development Program
    Nov. 12, 2014 | Chicago

December
- Winter Leadership Conference
    Dec. 4-6, 2014 | Palm Springs, Calif.
- 40-Hour Mediation Training Program
   Dec. 7-11, 2014 | New York, N.Y.

 

 
 
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