Professionals Must Now Disclose Their Interests in the PR Cases

posted by Stephen Lubben

President Biden has just signed the "Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act of 2021’’ or ‘‘PRRADA’," which requires professionals to make chapter 11-style disclosures when they file fee applications in the PROMESA title III cases. Failure to comply not only can result in loss of fees in the Puerto Rico cases, but such failure to disclosure must also be disclosed in other chapter 11 cases going forward. Presumably the prior failure to comply with statutory disclosure requirements should factor into the decision to authorize retention in chapter 11.

The Blurring of Tech and Finance

posted by Adam Levitin

I have an op-ed in ProMarkets about how Apple leverages control of the iPhone's NFC chip to push the dominance of its platform into new areas that let it hoover up more consumer data. The NFC (near field communication) chip is what lets the iPhone do contactless payments for ApplePay.  Apple strictly controls access to the NFC chip--it doesn't let AndroidPay use it, for example. But the NFC chip's uses extend beyond payments.  Apple is now using it to let the iPhone operate as a car key and a hotel room key. The catch? If you're a car manufacturer or hotel and you want this cool technology to work with your product, you're going to need to share some of the consumer data with Apple. 

What we're seeing here is an example of the increased blurring between tech companies and financial services companies, tied together by troves of consumer data.  This is a development that ultimately challenges the traditional regulatory boundaries of FTC and CFPB and is going to raise all sorts of issues for antitrust, consumer protection, and data privacy for years to come.

A Better Way to Deal with Student Loan Debt

posted by Adam Levitin

My Georgetown colleague Jake Brooks and I have an op-ed in Politico about the best way to address the student loan debt problem. We argue that existing proposals for outright student debt relief, whether $10k, $50k, or everything, are problematic, at least standing on their own, particularly because they fail to address the student loan problem going forward. Instead, we see income-driven repayment (IDR) plans as a key part of addressing the problem. 

Continue reading "A Better Way to Deal with Student Loan Debt" »

Clauses and Controveries: From Commercial Bank Loans to Blue Bonds

posted by Mark Weidemaier

Mark Weidemaier and Mitu Gulati

After a short hiatus (we like to say we are between seasons), the Clauses and Controversies podcast has resumed. This week's episode, From Commercial Bank Loans to Blue Bonds, features Antonia Stolper from Shearman & Sterling:

Sovereign debt markets have evolved significantly over the years, from syndicated bank loans, to bonds, to the current infatuation with ESG lending. Antonia Stolper (Shearman & Sterling) joins us to talk about the evolution of sovereign debt practice over the course of her eminent career. We also talk about Belize's recent debt restructuring, where some say creditors agreed to significant additional reductions in exchange for promises by Belize to invest the savings in environmental conservation projects. Antonia helps us understand what actually happened in this deal and what its implications might be for future sovereign restructurings.

New Year, New Data in Your Credit Score

posted by Pamela Foohey

During 2021, reports from the CFPB and consumer advocates spotlighted the role of credit scoring in people's financial growth or stagnation and decline. These reports emphasized racial and ethnic disparities in credit scores and in complaints about errors in credit reports. Congressmembers introduced three draft bills aimed at improving credit reporting. Given the problems with traditional credit reports and scores, along with barriers to access to credit and other opportunities faced by the credit invisible, the idea of alternative credit scoring was raised repeatedly last year -- in reports, news stories, and in the draft bills. Seemingly in reaction, starting now, Experian is adding data about "buy now, pay later" loans to credit reports. Soon after Transunion announced that it was “well on [its] way” to including the same data.

Sara Greene and I have a new paper about credit reporting and scores, "Credit Scoring Duality," that focuses on the benefits and potential problems of adding alternative data to credit scoring models. Adding more data to credit scores, at first, may seem appealing. More data = better, more accurate scores? However, the use of this alternative data will not necessarily make the credit invisible or people with low credit scores more attractive. Much of the additional data proposed suffer from the same demographic disparities as the data already incorporated into credit scores. That is, in general, the people supposedly helped by inclusion of alternative data are likely to perform below-average on these inputs. Beyond replicating already present disparities, Greene and I worry that pointing to alternative credit scoring as a solution will distract from larger, systemic issues that are shown by disparities in credit scores. For more details, see our draft paper.

Bankruptcy Filing Rate Is Lowest Since Bankruptcy Code's Enactment--The Question Is Why

posted by Bob Lawless

2021 (Nov) Projected FilingsThere will be around 400,000 total bankruptcy filings in 2021. That figure is historically low. The table to the right shows annual filing figures since 2010, which was the post-2005 peak. The 400,000 filings this year is a 75% reduction from 2010. 

The 400,000 filings in 2021 will be a rate of 1.21 bankruptcy filing per 1,000 persons (using the mid-year, July population estimate). That is the lowest annual rate since the enactment of the Bankruptcy Code. In 1980, the first full calendar year of filings under the new law, there were 1.22 filings per 1,000 persons. In absolute numbers, there were 122,000 more filings in 2021 than in 1980, but there also are over 100 million more people living in the U.S.

Filings Per 1000.1980 to 2021Every calendar year since 1980 has had a higher bankruptcy filing rate. Absent some surprisingly high number of filings in December, this year will put an end to that. Ed Flynn's numbers over at the American Bankruptcy Institute show that at least through December 12, the situation has not changed.

Why are bankruptcy filings so low in the midst of a pandemic that has caused so much economic upheaval? Anyone who claims to have an answer to that question is either lying or overconfident. I certainly don't have an answer, but I have some hypotheses suggested by the data, with emphasis on "hypotheses." Below the fold, I explain those hypotheses and conclude with some thoughts about how much lower the filing rate can get.

Continue reading "Bankruptcy Filing Rate Is Lowest Since Bankruptcy Code's Enactment--The Question Is Why " »

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