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Fitch Some Past Chapter 11 Filers Again at Risk of Default

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | August 23, 2012
 
  

August 23, 2012

 
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FITCH: SOME PAST CHAPTER 11 FILERS AGAIN AT RISK OF DEFAULT

US Airways Group Inc. and Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. top a list of companies that restructured under chapter 11 but remain at risk of another default in the future, according to a new report by Fitch Ratings, Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review reported yesterday. Fitch analysts Sharon Bonelli and Michael Simonton identified 31 companies that have defaulted in the past, whether via a bankruptcy filing, debt exchange or missed bond payment. Five publishing companies made the list, putting that industry most at risk of default. Building products companies came in second, with four in all. Read more. (Subscription required.)

COMMENTARY: A QUICK END TO TARP MEANS A SMALLER PAYOFF FOR TAXPAYERS

The federal government still holds investments in hundreds of small banks around the country in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and in an effort to wind down TARP, the government is trying to sell off its holdings of preferred stock of the remaining smaller banks, according to a commentary yesterday in the New York Times DealBook blog. The problem, according to the commentary, is that the Treasury Department is not getting great bids on some of the bank paper, even on the shares of banks with strong profits and strong capital. When the government sold its holdings in MetroCorp Bancshares of Houston this month, the bank itself bought back most of it – at 98 cents on the dollar. Wilshire Bancorp of Los Angeles bought back its paper at 94 cents on the dollar. The Treasury Department sold preferred shares of Ohio-based First Defiance at 96 cents, and Peoples Bancorp of North Carolina at 93 cents. While all of these small banks are regarded as healthy, the taxpayers take the loss, according to the commentary. Read more.

FHFA: SECOND QUARTER U.S. HOUSING PRICES INCREASED MOST SINCE 2005 IN SECOND QUARTER

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that U.S. house prices jumped 1.8 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, fueled by record-low mortgage rates and tight inventory, Bloomberg News reported today. The seasonally adjusted increase was the biggest since the fourth quarter of 2005, the FHFA said. Prices climbed 3 percent from a year earlier. The number of Americans who owed more than their homes were worth fell by about 400,000 in the second quarter, according to a report today by Zillow Inc. Read more.

MASSACHUSETTS FORECLOSURE PREVENTION ACT SIGNED INTO LAW

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) on August 3, 2012, signed into law Massachusetts’ Foreclosure Prevention Law, according to a recent post on the Massachusetts Real Estate Law blog. The new law makes significant changes to existing foreclosure practices in Massachusetts, and also attempts to clean up the recent turmoil surrounding defective foreclosure titles after the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez and Eaton v. FNMA rulings. Provisions of the new law include:

• New requirement that mortgage assignments be recorded
• New mandatory requirement to offer loan modifications and mediation to qualified borrowers
• New Eaton foreclosure affidavit confirming ownership of note/mortgage loan
• Protection for third party buyers of foreclosed properties

The new Massachusetts law goes into effect on Nov. 1, 2012. Click here to read the full text of the law.

COMMENTARY: GOVERNMENT STILL FRUSTRATED BY GMAC

Among the companies that were bailed out by the federal government during the financial crisis, perhaps the most intractable is the company formerly known as the General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), according to a commentary in the New York Times DealBook blog yesterday. GMAC was the financial arm of General Motors, and in the years leading up to the financial crisis, it was also GM's most profitable unit. In 2005, desperate to raise cash, General Motors sold a 51 percent stake in GMAC to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. During the financial crisis, however, the only way that GMAC staved off collapse was thanks only to a government infusion of $17.2 billion. The company was renamed Ally Financial and the Treasury Department now owns 73.8 percent of Ally, with Cerberus retaining an 8.7 percent stake. Almost since that time, the Treasury Department has wanted to rid itself of its Ally stake, according to the commentary. Ally filed for an initial public offering in March 2011, but it has so far languished in the face of a weak market and concerns over Ally itself. The Treasury Department has been paid back about $5.7 billion and still controls the company through its stock ownership and appointment of a majority of Ally's directors. Despite lingering concerns about Ally, the automobile sales market is recovering and Ally's auto finance operations turned a profit last year. But Ally is still suffering from legacy debts, according to the commentary primarily concentrated in its ResCap unit. Despite having “General Motors” as part of its former title, the company did not just finance automobiles, but was also one of the largest subprime housing lenders through its ResCap subsidiary. Read more.

ANALYSIS: BUYOUTS BOOM, BUT NOT LIKE 2007

Private-equity buyouts are back but with a twist—they are smaller and less flashy than in past booms, according to an analysis in today's Wall Street Journal. Emboldened by a flurry of activity, private-equity executives say that the buyout market is crawling back from the doldrums of the financial crisis, when the debt that fueled such deals disappeared and potential sellers were put off by low valuations. Private-equity firms have snapped up $64.7 billion worth of U.S. companies since January, the highest amount year-to-date since 2007, according to data provider Dealogic. Experts cite a range of reasons, from relatively inexpensive financing to a push by troubled European banks to sell assets. Activity could cool off for the rest of the year amid uncertainty over the global economy and the U.S. presidential election, according to experts. And unlike in 2007, a blockbuster year for private equity that witnessed a bevy of large buyouts for household names, the current targets are smaller and lesser known. Read more. (Subscription required.)

DON'T MISS THE "WHEN IS AN INDIVIDUAL CHAPTER 11 THE BEST FIT?" WEBINAR ON SEPT. 27!

Chapter 11 can offer significant relief for certain individuals who need a restructuring of their finances. Learn when and how to use this tool in a 75-minute live webinar on Sept. 27 at noon ET. An expert panel will guide you through a successful individual chapter 11 and discuss key issues such as plan confirmation, modification and treatment of future income and secured debt.

Panelists on the webinar include:

James F. Molleur of the Molleur Law Office (Biddeford, Maine)

John P. Fitzgerald, III, of the Office of the U.S. Trustee (Boston)

Raymond J. Obuchowski of Obuchowski & Emens-Butler, PC (Bethel, Vt.)

Jennifer Rood of Bernstein Shur (Manchester, N.H.)

This panel was the highest rated at ABI's Northeast Bankruptcy Conference in July. The webinar is available to ABI members for $75. To register, please click here.

ABI IN-DEPTH

LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF SECURITIES V. WILCOX (10TH CIR.)

Summarized by Daniel Glasser of Chipman Glasser, LLC

Reversing an earlier district court decision, the 10th Circuit held that debtors were entitled to a discharge of a claim related to debtors' unjust enrichment from proceeds of a Ponzi scheme, because such proceeds fell outside the exception in 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(19) – judgments for the violation of securities laws. The Tenth Circuit held that the plain language of section 523(a)(19) is limited to the perpetrators of securities violations, not to debtors unjustly enriched by a third party's violation of the law. Chief Circuit Judge Briscoe, however, dissented. He disagreed with the majority’s reading of the statute and argued that at least one of the debtors was complicit in the Ponzi scheme.

There are more than 600 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: THE CONTRACTS CLAUSE VERSUS THE BANKRUPTCY CLAUSE: BANKRUPTCY COURT HOLDS BANKRUPTCY CLAUSE REIGNS SUPREME

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A new blog post examines a recent decision by the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California that affirmatively held that the contracts clause did not eclipse the bankruptcy clause in the chapter 9 case of Stockton, Calif. Shortly after Stockton filed for chapter 9 protection in June, a group of retired employees commenced an adversary proceeding to prevent termination of their benefits on the theory that the contracts clause of the Constitution prevented the city from reducing retiree health benefits.

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

Client matters left unfinished at a firm when it files for bankruptcy are the property of the defunct firm.

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?

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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

September
- 7th Annual Golf and Tennis Outing
     September 11, 2012 | Maplewood, N.J.
- Complex Financial Restructuring Program
     September 13-14, 2012 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- Southwest Bankruptcy Conference
     September 13-15, 2012 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- 38th Annual Lawrence P. King and Charles Seligson Workshop on Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization
     September 19-20, 2012 | New York, N.Y.
- "When Is an Individual Chapter 11 the Best Fit?" Live Webinar
     September 27, 2012
- American College of Bankruptcy's "Bankruptcy: Back to the Future" Program
     September 28, 2012 | Chicago, Ill.

October
- Nuts & Bolts for Young and New Practitioners - KC
     October 4, 2012 | Kansas City, Mo.
- Midwestern Bankruptcy Institute Program, Midwestern Consumer Forum
     October 5, 2012 | Kansas City, Mo.

  


- Bankruptcy 2012: Views from the Bench
     October 5, 2012 | Washington, D.C.
- Chicago Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     October 8, 2012 | Chicago, Ill.
- "Trending Issues: Examiners and Select Plan Confirmation Issues" Webinar
     October 15, 2012
- International Insolvency and Restructuring Symposium
     October 18, 2012 | Rome, Italy

November
- U.S./Mexico Restructuring Symposium
     November 7, 2012 | Mexico City, Mexico
- Professional Development Program
     November 9, 2012 | New York, N.Y.
- Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     November 12, 2012 | Detroit, Mich.
- Winter Leadership Conference
     November 29 - December 1, 2012 | Tucson, Ariz.


 
 
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Stockton Experienced Years of Unraveling Prior to Bankruptcy

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | July 19, 2012
 
  

July 19, 2012

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

STOCKTON EXPERIENCED YEARS OF UNRAVELING PRIOR TO BANKRUPTCY

Stockton, Calif., recently became the largest city in the country to declare bankruptcy, but evidence of its unraveling has been mounting for years, the New York Times reported today. Housing prices shot up in the early 2000s, when commuters from the San Francisco Bay area bought and built homes in Stockton. After the bubble burst, the median home price plummeted by more than 60 percent in the last five years. In the first half of this year, the city had the highest foreclosure rate of any in the country, according to RealtyTrac. The unemployment rate has hovered around 17 percent for the last few years, nearly double the national average. While Stockton’s bankruptcy troubles can be traced in part to the collapse of the housing market and the subsequent erosion of the city's tax base, for years city leaders also mismanaged and overspent funds, pushing the city into financial peril, analysts and current city officials say. Stockton cannot afford the $417 million it owes for retiree health benefits, city officials say, and this year a bank repossessed city-owned parking garages and a $40 million building the city had bought intended to house an upgraded City Hall. Since 2009, the city has cut 25 percent of its police officers, 30 percent of its Fire Department and over 40 percent of all other city employees. Read more.

CALIFORNIA'S "CHARTER" CITIES ARE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

The last three large California cities to seek bankruptcy protection are all "charter cities," and now another charter city, Compton, says that it may have to file for bankruptcy by September, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Of California's 482 cities, 121 have their own constitutions, or charters. That gives them more leeway in governing their own affairs, including the freedom to set their own rules about elections, salaries and contracts. But that autonomy may be at the root of some of their fiscal problems, some experts say. Charter cities are exempt from state laws that mandate salary limits for elected officials. These cities also were free during good times to include generous worker pay and staffing agreements in their charters that can be difficult to alter quickly during financial duress. Read more. (Subscription required.)

FORECLOSURE CRISIS HITTING OLDER AMERICANS

A new AARP report says that more than 1.5 million older Americans have already lost their homes, with millions more at risk as the national housing crisis takes its toll on those who are among the worst positioned to weather the storm, the Associated Press reported today. According to AARP:

• Nearly 600,000 people who are 50 years or older are in foreclosure.

• About 625,000 in the same age group are at least three months behind on their mortgages.

• Nearly 3.5 million — 16 percent of older homeowners — are underwater, meaning their home values have gone down and they now owe more than their homes are worth.

AARP said that over the past five years, the proportion of loans held by older Americans that are seriously delinquent jumped by more than 450 percent. Homeowners who are younger than 50 have a higher rate of serious delinquency than their older counterparts. But the rate is increasing at a faster pace for older Americans than for younger ones, according to AARP’s analysis of more than 17 million mortgages. Read more.

Click here to read AARP's press release on the report.

COMMENTARY: THE CFPB’S NEW MORTGAGE DISCLOSURES ARE A BUST

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) "Mortgage Disclosure Team" just came out with two proposed forms that are supposed to make things easier for borrowers, but lenders, including nonprofit Habitat for Humanity, are concerned that the new forms will impede their ability to enable low-income families to become homeowners, according to a commentary in today's Wall Street Journal. The CFPB is proposing to replace the old mortgage disclosure forms with a new Loan Estimate Form and Closing Disclosure Form. However, any lender, including organizations such as Habitat, is at legal risk if they try to help low-income borrowers who lack the ability to repay their loans. The new rules would also forbid many borrowers from making smaller payments every month, followed by a single, one-time balloon payment to retire the principal at the end, according to the commentary. Read more. (Registration required.).

STUDENT DEBT HITS THE MIDDLE-AGED

Student debt is rising sharply among all age groups, but middle-aged Americans appear to be struggling the most with payments, according to new data released on Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The delinquency rate—or the percentage of debt on which no payment has been made for 90 days—was 11.9 percent for debt held by borrowers aged 40 to 49 as of March. That compares with a rate of 8.7 percent for borrowers of all ages. Two-thirds of the nation's $900 billion in student debt is held by Americans under 40, the Fed estimates. But borrowers over 40 are having a particularly tough time with student debt for several reasons, consumer and higher-education experts say. Many debtors over 40 are still paying balances incurred years ago from college, while their home values and savings have declined sharply in recent years. An Education Department program that provides loans to parents to fund their kids' education is also among the fastest-growing of the government's education loan programs. Read more. (Subscription required.)

REPORT: PENSION UNDERFUNDING ON THE RISE

The amount by which pensions at S&P 500 companies are underfunded grew from $245 billion to $355 billion between 2010 and 2011, according to a new report from Standard & Poor's, CongressDaily reported today. Additionally the transportation bill Congress passed at the end of June included a pension provision that broadened the timeline used to calculate how much companies should stow away to cover pension obligations. The longer timeline reduces the short-term impact of the recession, freeing up cash for companies to spend (and the government to tax). But the benefits are fleeting: "It appears that Congress was willing to permit future payments to obtain tax receipts now, even though the expected net return would turn negative after five years," according to the report. Read more.

COMMENTARY: KEEPING CREDIT BUREAUS IN CHECK

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Sept. 30 will start supervising credit reporting agencies, including the big three: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, according to a commentary in yesterday's Washington Post. For years, consumer advocates have complained that the information collected often includes errors. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the bureaus and any businesses supplying them with data must correct inaccurate information. The bureaus, in turn, are required to put systems in place that allow consumers to dispute information. However, surveys have shown that getting erroneous information removed from credit files can be an exasperating experience. The credit bureau industry claims that most reports are accurate, but one problem with the system, according to the commentary, is that the bureaus rely on information provided to them by companies seeking to collect debts. The CFPB will supervise credit reporting agencies that have more than $7 million in annual receipts. This means that the agency's authority will cover about 30 companies that account for about 94 percent of the market. The three major credit bureaus issue more than 3 billion consumer reports a year and maintain files on more than 200 million Americans, the CFPB said. Read more.

ABI IN-DEPTH

“SUBJECTING BUSINESS PROJECTIONS TO SCRUTINY IN VALUATION DISPUTES” WEBINAR TO BE HELD ON JULY 30!

Reassembling the speakers from the highest-rated panel at the New York City Bankruptcy Conference this year, ABI will be holding a live webinar on July 30 at 11 a.m. ET titled, "Subjecting Business Projections to Scrutiny in Valuation Disputes." Panelists include:

  • Moderator David Pauker of Goldin Associates, LLC (New York)
  • Martin J. Bienenstock of Proskauer (New York)
  • David M. Hillman of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (New York)
  • Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Gerber (S.D.N.Y.)

The panel will address:

  • How much deference should management projections be accorded?
  • How do you determine whether projections are unrealistically optimistic or pessimistic?
  • What is the relevance of "market consensus?"
  • How do management’s incentives impact projections?

The webinar is available to ABI members for $75 and is approved for 1.0 CLE hours in Calif., Ga., Hawaii, Ill., N.Y. (approved jurisdiction policy) S.C. and Texas. CLE approval is pending in Del., Fla., Pa. and Tenn. To register, please click here.

LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: STUDENSKY V. MORGAN (IN RE MORGAN; 5TH CIR.)

Summarized by Aaron Kaufman of Cox Smith Matthews Inc.

The Fifth Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and held that where a debtor does not claim a homestead exemption and then sells the homestead post-petition, the debtor has the burden of claiming the exemption in the proceeds within the six months allowed under applicable state law. In this case, because the debtor failed to claim an exemption in his homestead and failed to claim an exemption in the proceeds during the six months following the sale (i.e., while the proceeds were exempt under state law), the debtor lost his right to claim an exemption in the sale proceeds. The trustee's objection should have been sustained. The lower courts' decisions were reversed and remanded.

More than 570 appellate opinions are summarized on Volo typically within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.

NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: LIBOR SCANDAL UNDERMINES BANKERS' CLAIMS OF OVERREGULATION

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines the issues surrounding the Libor scandal and how it is undermining the push by bankers for looser regulations.

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 anti-modification rule for home mortgages in chapter 13 should be repealed, subjecting mortgage debts to bifurcation like any other secured claim.

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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

July
- Southeast Bankruptcy Workshop
     July 25-28, 2012 | Amelia Island, Fla.
-Valuation Webinar, July 30 at 11 a.m. ET

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

September
- Complex Financial Restructuring Program
     September 13-14, 2012 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- Southwest Bankruptcy Conference
     September 13-15, 2012 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- 38th Annual Lawrence P. King and Charles Seligson Workshop on Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization
     September 19-20, 2012 | New York, N.Y.


  

October
- Nuts & Bolts for Young and New Practitioners - KC
     October 4, 2012 | Kansas City, Mo.
- Midwestern Bankruptcy Institute Program, Midwestern Consumer Forum
     October 5, 2012 | Kansas City, Mo.
- Bankruptcy 2012: Views from the Bench
     October 5, 2012 | Washington, D.C.
- Chicago Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     October 8, 2012 | Chicago, Ill.
- International Insolvency and Restructuring Symposium
     October 18, 2012 | Rome, Italy

November
- Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     November 12, 2012 | Detroit, Mich.


 
 
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Detroit Becomes Biggest U.S. City to File for Bankruptcy

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | July 18, 2013
 
  

July 18, 2013

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

DETROIT BECOMES BIGGEST U.S. CITY TO FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY

Detroit today became the biggest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy as it officially sought bankruptcy court protection from its creditors while it tries to eliminate a budget deficit and cut its long-term debt, Bloomberg News reported today. The city listed assets and debt of more than $1 billion in a chapter 9 petition filed today in federal court in Detroit. Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency fiscal manager, warned in May that the city might run out of cash. His proposal to restructure more than $17 billion in debt and long-term obligations includes cutting pension payments, ending cost-of-living increases, removing some workers from the system and making the rest pay more. "Without a significant restructuring of its debt, the city will be unable to break the cycle of damaging cutbacks in essential municipal services and investments," Orr said in a report. The case is City of Detroit, 13-53846, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit). Read more.

For an analysis of the situation in Detroit, municipal distress and chapter 9 bankruptcy, be sure to pick up a copy of ABI's Municipalities in Peril: The ABI Guide to Chapter 9, Second Edition, from the ABI Bookstore.

LEGISLATION REINTRODUCED TO STOP EMINENT DOMAIN PROPOSALS AIMED AT UNDERWATER HOMEOWNERS

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) reintroduced "The Defending American Taxpayers from Abusive Government Takings Act" today to stop city and county governments from enacting eminent domain policies aimed at underwater homeowners, according to a press release today from Campbell's office. Despite the failure of Mortgage Resolution Partners LLC (MRP) to receive approval for their eminent domain proposal by San Bernardino County, Calif., and Chicago last year, local governments and cities around the country are entertaining similar proposals. Cities in California and Nevada continue to consider MRP's proposal for local governments to seize mortgages from bond trusts to cut balances and help homeowners. MRP recently sent letters to securities trustees and loan servicers asking them to verify their roles in specific deals and provide information about individual mortgages that could be purchased. MRP must try to negotiate to buy the loans before municipalities can use powers known as eminent domain to force the sales, and then they would then lower the principal owed. The moves signal a renewed battle over the initiative, which has drawn opposition from bondholders such as Pacific Investment Management Co. and DoubleLine Capital LP and at least 18 trade groups representing the finance industry, homebuilders and real-estate firms. Rep. Campbell introduced the same measure last year in response to the MRP proposal. "Using eminent domain to seize mortgages is not only legally questionable," said Campbell, "it represents a complete abrogation of private property rights. The federal government and the American taxpayer would be forced to bear all the risk in the event of a failure." To read Rep. Campbell's press release on the legislation, please click here.

To read the Bloomberg News analysis, please click here.

SENATORS REACH DEAL ON STUDENT LOANS, PREPARE FOR VOTE

Under pressure from the White House, senators are quickly moving forward with a plan to change how the government sets federal student loan interest rates, tying them to market rates but imposing caps on how high those rates can go, the Associated Press reported today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said today that a vote could come this week. The deal was brokered by a bipartisan group of senators who have been negotiating for weeks, with the help of Department of Education staffers who have been camped out in their offices. Under this new deal, finalized today, undergraduates would all pay the same interest rate, a change from recent years when some low- and middle-income students received a lower rate. Graduate students and parents of students would have their own rates, which would be higher than those for undergraduates and have higher caps. The plan is expected to save the government $715 million over a decade, according to aides. For the coming school year, undergraduates would see rates of 3.86 percent. That's lower than the current fixed rate of 6.8 percent, but the new rate could go as high as 8.25 percent in future years. Graduate students would pay about 5.41 percent for the coming year and up to 9.5 percent in the future. Loans taken out by parents for their dependent children would have an interest rate around of 6.41 percent that could go as high as 10.5 percent. Right now, graduate students have interest rates of 6.8 and 7.9 percent, while parents pay 7.9 percent. Read more.

ANALYSIS: REGULATORY RIFT DEVELOPS GLOBALLY OVER FINANCIAL SYSTEM

Global regulators are pursuing disparate approaches to protecting the financial system against future shocks, fracturing an agreement forged in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to adopt a coordinated response, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Policymakers, at odds over how to reduce risk in the financial system, are disagreeing over what the proper capital levels should be for banks, derivatives regulation, criminal prosecutions of bankers and even the appropriate forum for brokering agreements on financial-services issues. Countries such as the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland are demanding that banks build thicker capital cushions to absorb losses and bigger liquidity buffers than most other European countries are embracing. European and U.K. officials have shown a greater willingness than their U.S. counterparts to rein in bankers' pay and target bad behavior with criminal prosecutions. The U.K.'s banking supervisors have also urged some European and U.S. banks to restructure their U.K. operations and have pressured foreign branches of banks from many countries -- from crisis-hit countries like Cyprus to Switzerland and the U.S. -- to stockpile additional funds in their British arms. The different approaches have led to cross-border sniping, with its European Union officials threatening retaliation if the U.S. imposes its rules abroad. Britain's push has led it afoul of European counterparts, who criticize the country's aggressive approach as a violation of the bloc's "single market" rules. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said yesterday that global coordination shouldn't come at the expense of tough rules. Some executives say privately that the discord gives them a chance to delay or water down rules by pitting regulators in different countries against one another. Read more. (Subscription required.)

DID YOU MISS MONDAY'S abiLIVE WEBINAR DISCUSSING § 1111(b) ELECTION, PLAN FEASIBILITY AND CRAMDOWN ISSUES? RECORDING IS NOW AVAILABLE!

If you were not able to join Monday's well-attended abiLIVE webinar examining § 1111(b), a recording of the program is now available for downloading! Utilizing a case study, ABI's panel of experts explored the issues surrounding a lender's decision on whether or not to make an election under § 1111(b), plan feasibility and voting. The abiLIVE panel also walked attendees through the necessary mathematical analyses used to examine these issues. The 90-minute recording is available for the special price of $75 and can be purchased here.

NEW abiLIVE WEBINAR ON AUGUST 20: HOW WILL THE NEW U.S. TRUSTEE FEE GUIDELINES IMPACT YOU?

The new U.S. Trustee Fee Guidelines will affect all attorneys and firms who work on larger chapter 11 cases filed on or after November 1st. ABI's Ethics & Professional Compensation Committee will present a panel of experts, including Cliff White, the director of the U.S. Trustee Program, to discuss some of the ways 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. Register today to hear government, attorney and academic perspectives on this important and timely topic.

ABI GOLF TOUR UNDERWAY; NEXT STOP IS THE MID-ATLANTIC BANKRUPTCY WORKSHOP IN AUGUST

The next stop for the ABI Golf Tour is the Hershey Country Club, in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Bankruptcy Workshop. Final scoring to win the Great American Cup — sponsored by Great American Group — is based on your top three scores at seven scheduled ABI events, so play as many as you can before the tour wraps up at the Winter Leadership Conference in December. 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! There's no charge to register or participate in the Tour.

ABI IN-DEPTH

NORTON JUDICIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN

Nominations are now open for the 8th Annual Judge William L. Norton Judicial Excellence Award, to be presented during the ABI luncheon at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges on Nov. 1, 2013. The award is presented by ABI and Thomson Reuters each year to the current or retired bankruptcy judge whose career embodies the same continued dedication and outstanding contributions to the insolvency community as the award’s namesake, Judge Norton. Nominations are considered by a committee made up of representatives from the Norton treatise and past ABI presidents. Nomination forms are available from Clay Mattson at Thomson Reuters (clay.mattson@thomsonreuters.com) and should be submitted by July 29.

NEW ABI "BANKRUPTCY IN DEPTH" ON-DEMAND CLE PROGRAM LOOKS AT PRINCIPLES OF PROPERTY OF THE ESTATE: DEMYSTIFYING EQUITABLE INTERESTS

In this 90-minute seminar, Profs. Andrew Kull of Boston University School of Law and Scott Pryor of Regent University School of Law provide an in-depth analysis of a legal principle that has become, in their words, "a long-lost area of the law": § 541 of the Bankruptcy Code. Seeking to demystify what is meant by "property of the estate" and, in particular, the distinction between legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property, Kull and Pryor describe the legal entanglements that ensue when legal title belongs to one person but the equitable title belongs to someone else. The cost of the seminar, which includes written materials and qualifies for 1.5 hours of CLE, is $95. To order or to learn more, click here.

ASSOCIATES: ABI'S NUTS & BOLTS ONLINE PROGRAMS HELP YOU HONE YOUR SKILLS WHILE SAVING ON CLE!

Associates looking to sharpen their bankruptcy knowledge should take advantage of ABI's special offer of combining general, business or consumer Nuts & Bolts online programs. Each program features an outstanding faculty of judges and practitioners explaining the fundamentals of bankruptcy, offering procedures and strategies tailored for both consumer and business attorneys. Click here to get the CLE you need at a great low price!

NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: UNITED JOINT VENTURE LP V. NOBLE (IN RE JENNINGS; 11TH CIR.)

Summarized by Lyndel Anne Mason of Cavazos, Hendricks, Poirot & Smitham, PC

The Eleventh Circuit ruled that the chapter 7 trustee's decision to close the estate as a "no asset" estate and not sell or settle a state court's judgment in favor of the debtor was within his business judgment under § 544(a), and the district court deference to that decision was affirmed.

There are more than 900 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: BIG BANKS' WARNINGS ABOUT LEVERAGE RATIO FAIL THE SMELL TEST

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A new blog post finds that the new leverage ratio is a relatively modest proposal that can be easily addressed by affected banks without material capital raises or changes in distribution policy.

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

When will the dowward trend of consumer bankruptcy filings turn around?

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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abiLIVESeptember
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Mid-Level PDP 2013
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Detroit
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40-Hour Mediation Program
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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

2013

August
- Mid-Atlantic Bankruptcy Workshop
    August 8-10, 2013 | Hershey, Pa.
- abiLIVE Webinar: How Will the New U.S. Trustee Fee Guidelines Impact You?
     August 20, 2013
- Southwest Bankruptcy Conference
    August 22-24, 2013 | Incline Village, Nev.

September
- ABI Endowment Golf & Tennis Outing
    Sept. 10, 2013 | Maplewood, N.J.
- ABI Endowment Baseball Game
    Sept. 12, 2013 | Baltimore, Md.
- Lawrence P. King and Charles Seligson Workshop on Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization
    Sept. 18-19, 2013 | New York
- abiLIVE Webinar: Complex Requirements and Ethical Duties of Representing Consumer Debtors
     Sept. 24, 2013
- Bankruptcy 2013: Views from the Bench
    Sept. 27, 2013 | Washington, D.C.


  


October
- Midwestern Bankruptcy Institute Program and Midwestern Consumer Forum
    Oct. 4, 2013 | Kansas City, Mo.
- ABI Endowment Football Game
    Oct. 6, 2013 | Miami, Fla.
- Professional Development Program
    Oct. 11, 2013 | New York, N.Y.
- Chicago Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
    Oct. 14, 2013 | Chicago, Ill.
- International Insolvency Symposium
    Oct. 25, 2013 | Berlin, Germany

November
- Austin Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy Practice Institute
   Nov. 10-12, 2013 | Austin, Texas
- Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
   Nov. 11, 2013 | Detroit, Mich.

December
- ABI/St. John’s Bankruptcy Mediation Training
    Dec. 8-12, 2013 | New York


 
 
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Credit Card Borrowers Still Paying Their Bills on Time

ABI Bankruptcy Brief | August 16, 2012
 
  

August 16, 2012

 
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  NEWS AND ANALYSIS   

CREDIT CARD BORROWERS STILL PAYING THEIR BILLS ON TIME

Customers of the largest credit card issuers predominantly continued to pay their bills on time in July, Dow Jones Newswires reported yesterday. Credit card lending in particular has been a bright spot for big banks since the recession ended because consumers have made paying their monthly bills a priority and been more hesitant to carry large balances. That has allowed lenders to boost earnings by setting aside less money to cover potential loan losses, and it more recently led some banks to loosen their loan criteria, according to the financial services unit of credit bureau TransUnion. On Tuesday, TransUnion said that the national credit card delinquency rate fell to 0.63 percent in the second quarter from 0.73 percent in the first quarter. Major credit card issuers including Discover Financial Services, Bank of America Corp. and Capital One Financial Corp. said yesterday that their portfolios continued to improve in July, with delinquency rates and net charge-offs falling for most. Read more.

WEEKLY UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS RISE

The number of U.S. workers filing applications for jobless benefits rose last week, though the overall trend suggests that the labor market has improved slightly since early this summer, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Initial jobless claims increased by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000 in the week ended Aug. 11, the Labor Department said today. Claims for the week ending Aug. 4 were revised up to 364,000 from an initially reported 361,000. The four-week moving average of claims fell by 5,500 to 363,750, the lowest level since the end of March. Read more. (Subscription required.)

NO CRIMINAL CASE IS LIKELY IN LOSS AT MF GLOBAL

A criminal investigation into the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global and the disappearance of about $1 billion in customer money is now heading into its final stage without charges expected against any top executives, the New York Times DealBook blog reported yesterday. After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the firm's demise, criminal investigators are concluding that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear. The hurdles to building a criminal case were always high with MF Global, which filed for bankruptcy in October after a huge bet on European debt unnerved the market. This week James Giddens, the MF Global liquidating trustee, said he would assist plaintiffs attorneys in civil suits against Jon Corzine and other top executives. But a lack of charges in the largest Wall Street blowup since 2008 is likely to fuel frustration with the government's struggle to charge financial executives. Just a few individuals – none of them top Wall Street players – have been prosecuted for the risky acts that led to recent failures and billions of dollars in losses. Read more.

REPORT: MUNICIPAL BONDS NOT AS SAFE AS ONCE THOUGHT

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a report yesterday saying that municipal bonds, widely seen as one of the safest investments, actually default more often than most people realize, the New York Times reported today. The economists said that the widely held belief that municipal bonds almost never default is based on only a narrow slice of the market — the safest part, consisting of bonds that are graded by the main ratings agencies when brought to market. When the researchers looked at a much broader sample, which included unrated bonds, they found there have been about 36 times as many municipal defaults over the past 40 years as conventional wisdom suggests. For example, Moody’s Investors Service has reported that from 1970 to 2011, there were only 71 municipal bond defaults. However, the Fed report counted 2,521 defaults in that time. Read more.

Click here to read the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's report.

In related news, barely half of U.S. states allow their local governments to file for bankruptcy, but Fitch Ratings said that it will continue to factor in the probability of a chapter 9 filing for all tax-supported local debt it rates, Reuters reported yesterday. Fitch added a new section on the legal and structural framework of debt in its criteria for rating U.S. local government bonds supported by taxes, highlighting growing concerns for municipal bankruptcies and explaining its views of the ties between local and state governments. Only 24 out of 50 states currently allow local governments to file for bankruptcy, "but Fitch believes that in an extreme case..the state would make the legal provisions necessary to file," it said. For decades, bankruptcies in the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market were rare. There have been nine chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy filings so far this year, compared with 13 in all of 2011. Read more.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR THE 24TH ANNUAL WINTER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE!

Don't miss ABI's 24th Annual Winter Leadership Conference, taking place Nov. 29 - Dec. 1 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz. This year's conference will feature insights from some of the top insolvency and restructuring experts on issues confronting the profession in 2013, including four specialized tracks geared toward business, consumer, financial advisor and professional development. The featured keynote speaker at this year's conference will be election analyst and author Larry Sabato. ABI's Great Debates, a field hearing of ABI’s Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 and 10 committee educational sessions will also be taking place at the conference. Panel sessions include:

Business Track:
• Fraudulent Conveyance Litigation from Soup to Nuts
• Pushing the Envelope
• The Role of the Hedge Fund in Corporate Restructurings: White Knight or Villain?
• Social Networking and Bankruptcy Issues

Financial Advisors Track
• Advising the Corporate Entity
• How to Create Value for the Estate from Your First Client Meeting until Entry of a Final Decree

Consumer Track
• From Infants to Toddlers: Bankruptcy Rules 3001 and 3002.1 Experience First-Year Growing Pains
• The National Mortgage Settlement: How Will It Affect Consumer Bankruptcy Cases?

Professional Development Track
• Litigation Skills: Mock Expert Examination
• “I'm Shocked—Shocked!—to Find that Unethical Conduct Is Going On in Here!”: A Tale of Ethics in Bankruptcy

The conference will also include a final night dinner featuring impressionist, comedian and singer Jeff Tracta, and the sounds of ABI's rock-n-roll band, the Indubitable Equivalents. Click here to register!

ABI IN-DEPTH

LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: U.S. V. CARVER (6TH CIR.)

Summarized by Nicholas Miller of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP

In affirming the lower court's ruling, the Sixth Circult held that (1) convictions for concealing assets and making a false statement under oath in bankruptcy would stand because evidence showed that the defendant (Carver) knowingly failed to disclose to the bankruptcy court a valuable wine collection and knowingly and falsely stated that he had sold the collection before the petition date; (2) Carver's sentence was procedurally reasonable because the district court properly calculated the amount of damage and number of victims caused by his crimes; and (3) his sentence was substantively reasonable because the district court, in fact, gave him a below-Guidelines sentence.

There are more than 600 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: BUSTING THE MYTH OF GLASS STEAGALL

The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post argues that restoring Glass-Steagall would be a remedy that is much like the Volcker rule: simple to say, hard to do.

Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.

ABI Quick Poll
The Twombly/Iqbal rule for pleading ‘plausible’ claims has been applied too stringently in dismissing avoidance actions for failure to state a claim.

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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NEXT EVENTS:

SE 2012
Sept. 11, 2012
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Sept. 13-15, 2012
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SE 2012
Sept. 13-14, 2012
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NYU 2012
Sept. 19-20, 2012
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Oct. 4, 2012
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SE 2012
Oct. 5, 2012
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SE 2012
Oct. 5, 2012
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SE 2012
Oct. 8, 2012
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ABI YOUNG AND NEW MEMBERS COMMITTEE “TRENDING ISSUES: EXAMINERS AND SELECT PLAN CONFIRMATION ISSUES” WEBINAR
Oct. 15, 2012
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SE 2012
Oct. 18, 2012
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MEXICO 2012
Nov. 7, 2012
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4TH ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Nov. 9, 2012
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SE 2012
Nov. 12, 2012
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SE 2012
Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 2012
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  CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

September
- 7th Annual Golf and Tennis Outing
     September 11, 2012 | Maplewood, N.J.
- Complex Financial Restructuring Program
     September 13-14, 2012 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- Southwest Bankruptcy Conference
     September 13-15, 2012 | Las Vegas, Nev.
- 38th Annual Lawrence P. King and Charles Seligson Workshop on Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization
     September 19-20, 2012 | New York, N.Y.
- American College of Bankruptcy's "Bankruptcy: Back to the Future" Program
     September 28, 2012 | Chicago, Ill.

October
- Nuts & Bolts for Young and New Practitioners - KC
     October 4, 2012 | Kansas City, Mo.
- Midwestern Bankruptcy Institute Program, Midwestern Consumer Forum
     October 5, 2012 | Kansas City, Mo.

  


- Bankruptcy 2012: Views from the Bench
     October 5, 2012 | Washington, D.C.
- Chicago Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     October 8, 2012 | Chicago, Ill.
- "Trending Issues: Examiners and Select Plan Confirmation Issues" Webinar
     October 15, 2012
- International Insolvency and Restructuring Symposium
     October 18, 2012 | Rome, Italy

November
- U.S./Mexico Restructuring Symposium
     November 7, 2012 | Mexico City, Mexico
- Professional Development Program
     November 9, 2012 | New York, N.Y.
- Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Conference
     November 12, 2012 | Detroit, Mich.
- Winter Leadership Conference
     November 29 - December 1, 2012 | Tucson, Ariz.


 
 
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