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2013 Bankruptcy Articles

Mortgage Rates Show Slight Increase Heading into the End of the Year

December 26, 2013
The Washington Post

Mortgage rates moved up slightly heading into the end of the year, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

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Underwater Homeowners Could Face Extra Tax Burden in 2014

December 25, 2013
The Washington Post

A law that spared people who owe more than their homes are worth from being saddled with extra taxes when their banks provide mortgage relief is expiring next week. Congress hasn’t extended it.

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DOJ Reaches Largest-ever Federal Government Settlement Over Auto Loan Discrimination

December 20, 2013
The Washington Times

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced Friday that the government has reached a $98 million settlement agreement with Detroit-based Ally Financial over discriminatory auto lending practices — the federal government’s largest auto loan discrimination settlement in history.

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Likely to Crack Down on Arbitration Clauses

December 12, 2013
ABI e-newsletter

In a report today that will likely lead to new regulations, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is taking a strong stance against lenders that use contract clauses to block consumers from going to court, American Banker reported today. At issue are arbitration clauses, which lenders have used for decades in contracts with consumers and businesses to force disputes to be settled outside of court through a third-party arbitrator. Although some lawmakers and consumer advocates have raised objections to such clauses, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld their use. But the CFPB could change that. In its 168-page report, the agency said that roughly 9 out of 10 clauses allow banks to prevent consumers from participating in class actions and that consumers almost never initiate an arbitration. Thus, mandatory arbitration clauses are more harmful than helpful to consumers. As a result, the agency appears likely to write new rules that could restrict or even eliminate the use of arbitration clauses. Arbitration clauses are commonly used by many financial service providers because they're a less expensive way of settling disputes. But the CFPB and consumer groups are concerned that forcing settlements outside of the courts strips away certain legal protections for consumers. They also argue that many consumers are not even aware of the arbitration clause embedded in contracts, some of which are far stricter than others.

Judge Rules Detroit Eligible for Historic Chapter 9 Bankruptcy, Says Pensions Can Be Cut

December 3, 2013
Detroit Free Press

The city of Detroit today officially became the largest municipality in U.S. history to enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes declared it met the specific legal criteria required to receive protection from its creditors.

Landmark Moment in Making: Judge to Rule on Detroit Bankruptcy

December 2, 2013
Reuters

The largest-ever municipal bankruptcy petition in U.S. history faces a watershed moment on Tuesday, as the judge overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy case is scheduled to rule whether the city is eligible for protection from creditors - an event that has citizens, public officials, creditors, retirees and others awaiting the judge's words and preparing responses.

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ABI Endowment Funded Study Finds Unsecured Creditor Recoveries Decreased Post-BAPCPA

November 19, 2013
American Bankruptcy Institute

Though the financial services industry lobbied Congress for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) in part to improve creditor returns in consumer bankruptcy proceedings, an ABI Endowment-funded study finds that recovery has been less effective. Prof. Lois Lupica of the University of Maine School of Law, who also authored the ABI Endowment-funded Consumer Bankruptcy Fee Study in 2011, was the reporter and principal investigator for "The Consumer Bankruptcy Creditor Distribution Study." The Fee Study found that there was a significant increase in access costs for consumers filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13. Lupica's new study built on that research to find that unsecured creditor distributions decreased for both chapter 7 and 13 cases after the enactment of BAPCPA.


U.S. Consumer Debt Highest Since Early 2008

November 14, 2013
Chicago Tribune

U.S. household debt rose in the latest quarter by the most in more than five years and the share of student loans in delinquency hit a record high, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed on Thursday.

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Report: Many Major U.S. Cities Still Not Recovered From Crises

November 12, 2013
American Bankruptcy Institute

A report released yesterday by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 30 major U.S. cities face a tough and uncertain road to financial recovery, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The revenues collected by a majority of the cities analyzed by Pew were still below their pre-crisis peaks, even as populations and costs have generally gone up. "For many of these large cities, the impact of the housing crisis on local revenue could have just been starting, several years after the worst of the nationwide collapse," according to the Pew research. The 30 cities analyzed by Pew and their metropolitan areas make up 49 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, the nonprofit says. Pew looked at cities such as New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The Pew study found that property-tax collections could continue to decline, straining cities. "Further projected declines of this key revenue source suggest that cities may face new challenges in coming years with property taxes," according to the report, which looked at financial filings from 2011, the most recent available for the 30 cities analyzed by Pew. Cities have less of a financial cushion to address such sluggish revenues: 29 of the 30 cities Pew examined tapped their reserve funds between 2007 and 2011.

Job Gap Widens in Uneven Recovery

November 12, 2013
Daily Motion

America's jobs recovery is proceeding on two separate tracks—a pattern that is persisting far longer than after past economic rebounds and lately has been growing worse. Ben Casselman reports. Photo: Getty Images.

New Student Loan Rules Add Protections for Borrowers

November 5, 2013
New York Times

If you are a former student having trouble paying back college debt, you may be relieved to hear that the Education Department has created new rules that will bolster borrower protections for federal education loans.

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October Bankruptcy Filings Increase 11 Percent over Previous Month, Consumer Filings Up 12 Percent

November 5, 2013
ABI.org

Total U.S. bankruptcy filings for the month of October increased 11 percent compared to September, according to data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc. October bankruptcy filings totaled 89,875, up from the 80,668 filings registered in September 2013. The 86,331 total noncommercial filings for October represented a 12 percent increase from the September noncommercial filing total of 77,274. Total commercial filings for October 2013 were 3,544, representing a 4 percent increase from the 3,394 filings in September.

Jury: BofA Liable for Countrywide Mortgage Fraud

October 23, 2013
USA Today

Bank of America was found liable for fraud Wednesday for a program — dubbed "the Hustle" — that caused millions in losses to federally backed mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac amid fallout from the financial crisis.

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Magnetar Goes Long Ohio Town While Shorting Its Tax Base

October 21, 2013
Bloomberg

Thousands of brick houses line the streets of Huber Heights, a leafy suburb of Dayton, Ohio, named for the builder who developed it in the 1950s and nurtured its growth. Until this year, his family was the town’s biggest landlord, with a third of all rental housing. Now the tenants’ payments are being routed to a $9 billion hedge fund.

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Southern California Housing Market Slows After Torrid Rebound

October 16, 2013
Los Angeles Times

The median home price stays flat for the third straight month, easing fears of another housing bubble and signaling a return to a more normal market, experts say.

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Bankruptcy Filings Through First Three Quarters of 2013 Fall 13 Percent from 2012, Commercial Filings Fall 23 Percent

October 3, 2013
American Bankruptcy Institute

Total bankruptcy filings were 801,783 nationwide during the first nine months of 2013 (Jan. 1-September 30), a 13 percent decrease from the 921,927 total filings recorded during the same period a year ago, according to data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc. The 767,445 total noncommercial filings for the first three quarters of 2013 represented a 13 percent drop from the noncommercial filing total of 877,123 during the first three quarters of 2012.

U.S. Government Shutdown Threatening Housing Recovery

October 2, 2013
Bloomberg

A U.S. government shutdown will immediately slow approval of thousands of mortgages. If it lasts more than a week, it threatens housing and the broader economic recovery.

Congress forced the first partial government closure in 17 years after failing to pass a budget, meaning borrowers in the process of obtaining home loans could be delayed as lenders are blocked from verifying Social Security numbers and accessing Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts.

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Student-Loan Defaults are Still Soaring Thanks to Washington's Neglect

October 1, 2013
The Atlantic

The official student loan default rate has hit a 16-year high, the Department of Education reported yesterday. One out of every ten borrowers whose loans went into repayment during 2011 defaulted within two years. That's up from a 9 percent two-year default rate among students who began repaying in 2010. Another 12 months has gone by, and the student loan crisis, sadly, has kept getting deeper.

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Five Years After the Financial Crisis: A View From Main Street

September 30, 2013
Huffington Post

Five years ago, the financial world as we knew it unraveled. Lehman Bros. announced it would declare bankruptcy. Several other financial institutions, including Washington Mutual, Wachovia and AIG, in the same month were restructured, merged or collapsed. Due to dubious lending practices, our robust housing market became history. The crisis was so huge that we are still feeling its impact.

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Bankrupt Stockton Plan Favors Retirees Over Creditors

September 28, 2013
Bloomberg

Stockton, California, unveiled its plan to exit bankruptcy by raising taxes and paying some creditors less than they are owed while maintaining its pension obligations to city employees.

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How Detroit Went Broke

September 15, 2013
Detroit Free Press

Detroit is broke, but it didn’t have to be. An in-depth Free Press analysis of the city’s financial history back to the 1950s shows that its elected officials and others charged with managing its finances repeatedly failed - or refused - to make the tough economic and political decisions that might have saved the city from financial ruin.

Southern California Home Prices Level Off

September 12, 2013
Los Angeles Times

Southern California home prices stayed flat in August for the second straight month, an indication the market may be normalizing after a period of torrid price hikes.

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What We Haven’t Learned From the Crisis

September 12, 2013
Slate Magazine

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ final, chaotic descent into bankruptcy. The investment bank wasn’t the first American financial institution to drown in bad bets on mortgage-backed securities. But unlike those that had come before, Lehman wasn’t covered by the FDIC and its resolution process. And despite the scrambling efforts of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, there was no way to quasi-save it through the kind of shotgun marriage that was deployed to sell Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase. Lehman was going down, and all officials could do was wait to see what happened next.

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Banks Seen at Risk Five Years After Lehman Collapse

September 10, 2013
Bloomberg

The Morgan Stanley (MS) banker who advised the U.S. Treasury Department on its rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008 and thought she understood the risks to the financial system had just spent a weekend trying to save Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. when she got a message: Would she come back to deal with American International Group Inc. (AIG)?

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Financial Consultant Famco Advisory Services Predicts National Retail Chains will be Filing Bankruptcy (again)

September 10, 2013
Famco Advisory Services

Which Retailer will file Bankruptcy?

As veteran credit analysts, FamCo sees problems with national retailers. The back-to-school season does not look as strong as it needs to be to pull the major companies out of the fire and just back into the frying pan. In particular, we think Sears and Penney's are still vulnerable to strategic Chapter 11 filings, ones which will allow them to reorganize (again) their brick-and-mortar businesses.

The ramifications for bankruptcy professionals are notable.

On the operational and supply-chain side, numerous manufacturers of everything from clothes to power tools will lose a valuable outlet for sales. This will itself lead to lay-offs and, we think, have some measurable negative effect on the overall economy. So add that to sequestration!

But filings by a national retailer will also lead to rejected leases, and rejected leases will lead to certain property owners losing anchor tenants and losing rental income. Thus, the filing of one or more major national retailers should also lead to the filings of numerous retail properties throughout the country.

Mortgage Lenders, Home Buyers Feel Rate Squeeze

September 9, 2013
Wallstreet Journal

A rise in interest rates is slamming homeowners' demand for mortgages, prompting large and midsize banks to cut jobs and warn investors of declining profitability in the home-loan business.

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Invasive Tactic in Foreclosures Draws Scrutiny

September 9, 2013
Deal Book

Faced with more than 10 million foreclosures that have piled up since the start of the mortgage crisis, the nation’s largest banks are turning behind the scenes to property management firms, with the Ohio-based Safeguard the largest, to help them navigate the wreckage, determine the occupancy of the troubled properties and preserve them until the homes can be resold.

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Employment Situation Summary - August 2013

September 6, 2013
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 169,000 in August, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in retail trade and health care but declined in information.

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Fed Poised to Taper Despite Weak US Jobs Report

September 6, 2013
Global Post

The United States posted a disappointing August labor report Friday but most analysts say the Federal Reserve is still on track to taper stimulus.

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San Bernardino Bankruptcy Ruling is a Blow to CalPERS

Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013
The Sacramento Bee

Over objections from CalPERS, a judge last week declared that the city of San Bernardino is eligible for bankruptcy, paving the way for a historic showdown over the sanctity of public employee pensions.

Set Back by Recession, and Shut Out of Rebound

August 26, 2013
New York Times

On the statistical surface, boomers seem better off than other age groups. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for workers 55 to 64 (the category that best matches boomers, who range from 48 to 67) was 5.4 percent in July, compared with 7.4 percent for the general population.

But almost every other number from the bureau makes it clear that while the economy may be improving, a substantial number of older workers who lost jobs - even those lucky enough to be re-employed — are still suffering. Two-thirds in that age group who found work again are making less than they did in their previous job; their median salary loss is 18 percent compared with a 6.7 percent drop for 20- to 24-year-olds.

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Stagnant Wages Are Crimping Economic Growth

August 25, 2013
NASDAQ

Americans are spending enough to keep the economy rolling, but don't expect them to splurge unless their paychecks start to grow. Neil Shah reports on the News Hub.

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Banks Report $51 Billion in Consumer Relief in Mortgage Settlement

August 22, 2013
Los Angeles Times

Five large banks said they have given $51.3 billion in relief to consumers under a landmark settlement of foreclosure-abuse complaints that is almost finished providing assistance to homeowners, the official monitor of the deal said Thursday.

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US Household Income Below End-of-Recession

August 21, 2013
Associated Press

The average American household is earning less than when the Great Recession ended four years ago, according to a report released Wednesday.

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Consumer-Finance Agency Chides Mortgage Servicers

August 21, 2013
NASDAQ

The mortgage industry, despite scrutiny following the "robo-signing" foreclosure scandal, is still making missteps in handling home loans, a federal regulator said Wednesday.

Federal Officials Shut Down California Debt Collection Operation

August 1, 2013
Los Angeles Times

Federal officials have shut down a California debt collection operation for allegedly extorting payments from consumers by posing as process servers and using false threats of lawsuits.

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U.S. Regulators Moving Cautiously on Mortgage Reforms

July 29, 2013
Reuters

U.S. bank regulators, wary of upsetting the fragile housing market, are moving cautiously in fashioning dozens of new rules to prevent reckless underwriting and other mortgage market abuses.

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Not Too Big to Fail

July 28, 2013
The New York Times

New rules on bank capital, recently proposed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and other bank regulators, are a welcome step toward a safer and sounder financial system. And they come at a politically timely moment. Big banks invariably argue that new rules will impede their ability to thrive and, in the process, harm the economy. But their profits are soaring, even as the economy slows, a situation that makes their shopworn anti-regulatory argument all the more threadbare.

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Detroit Files for Bankruptcy Protection

July 18, 2013
USA Today

The city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in federal court Thursday, laying the groundwork for a historic effort to bail out a city that is sinking under billions of dollars in debt and decades of mismanagement, population flight and loss of tax revenue.

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Subprime Borrowers With Best Credit Score Denied Help

July 16, 2013
Bloomberg

Travis Armstrong, a long-haul trucker, has made his mortgage payments for six years and has a credit score of about 800 that would entice most lenders. Because he owes more than his home is worth and his debt lacks federal backing, he’s stuck paying 7.5 percent interest, almost twice the rate of new loans.

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Senate Confirms Cordray to Head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

July 16, 2013
Washington Post

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ending years of contentious political wrangling over the leadership of one of the most influential agencies in Washington.

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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Replace Fannie, Freddie with New Agency

June 25, 2013
The Washington Post

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers have laid out the first substantial plan to redesign the nation’s mortgage market, nearly five years after the government spent more than $100 billion to rescue the system.

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Supreme Court Takes Case That Will Directly Impact CFPB, FDIC

June 24, 2013
Market Watch

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – which oversees regulations for mortgages and other credit products – and a major bank regulator will be closely watching the highest court in the land this fall.

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Detroit Has 50/50 Bankruptcy Chance, Emergency Manager Says

June 10, 2013
Reuters

In his first public meeting, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said On Monday the city has a 50/50 chance of filing for bankruptcy.

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Wall Street Journal Reports Unemployment Rate Nationwide Went UP from April 2013 to May 2013

June 7, 2013
The Wall Street Journal

Yes, it’s that time again, folks. It’s the first Friday of the month, when for one ever-so-brief moment the interests of Wall Street, Washington and Main Street are all aligned on one thing: Jobs.

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Factory Orders Rebound Modestly in April

June 5, 2013
USA Today

Orders to U.S. factories rose modestly in April as manufacturers rebounded from a weak March performance.

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Report: Entitlement Changes to Put Seniors at Financial Risk

June 5, 2013
The Washington Post

Nearly half of the nation’s elderly population is “economically vulnerable” and would be particularly hard hit by even modest changes in the Social Security and Medicare programs being considered to slow the growth of the nation’s long-term debt, according to a new report.

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Mortgage-relief Program Extended

May 31, 2013
CBS News Money Watch

The Home Affordable Mortgage Program, or HAMP, the government-sponsored program that offers incentives to banks to lower borrowers' mortgage payments, is set to be extended a further two years.

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Homes See Biggest Price Gain in Years, Propelling Stocks

May 28, 2013
The New York Times

The United States experienced another round of broad-based home price gains in March, reinforcing the housing recovery’s important role in driving economic growth.

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Behind the Mortgage Settlements from the Housing Crisis

May 19, 2013
The Washington Post

Banks have paid less than half the $5.7 billion in cash owed to troubled homeowners under nearly 30 settlements brokered by the government since 2008, delaying help to the millions of victims of discrimination and shoddy lending that epitomized the housing crisis, according to a Washington Post analysis of government data.

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Student Debt Continues to Rocket: NY Fed

May 14, 2013
The Street

Student debt continues to climb, even as other forms of consumer debt decline, according to the latest quarterly report on household debt published by the New York Federal Reserve.

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Obama Student Loan Policy Reaping $51 Billion Profit

May 14, 2013
Huffington Post

The Obama administration is forecast to turn a record $51 billion profit this year from student loan borrowers, a sum greater than the earnings of the nation's most profitable companies and roughly equal to the combined net income of the four largest U.S. banks by assets.

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Millions Struggling with Medical Debt

May 14, 2013
The Dallas Morning News

Medical debt continues to weigh on the shoulders of consumers.

Last year, 41 percent of adults ages 19 to 64 said they had problems paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt over time, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

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Debt-Repair Firm Charged in First CFPB Criminal Referral

May 7, 2013
Bloomberg

A debt-settlement company was accused by the U.S. of defrauding more than 1,200 people struggling with credit-card debt, in the first criminal referral from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office today announced the unsealing of an indictment against Mission Settlement Agency, its manager, Michael Levitis, and three employees. Prosecutors said the defendants “systematically exploited and defrauded” people across the country.

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ECB Rate Cut Avoids a Tricky Problem – For Now

May 2, 2013
WSJ Blogs

By cutting its benchmark refinancing rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.5% today, while leaving its deposit rate unchanged at zero, the European Central Bank has avoided a problem that could yet loom in future: can its deposit rate be reduced below zero?

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INSIGHT-U.S. Miners' Union Charts New Course to Save Benefits in Bankruptcy

May 1, 2013
Reuters

As mineworkers and retirees battle to salvage their pensions and benefits from the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal Corp, lawyers for their union are trying an unusual gambit - and one that may be a test case for workers' rights when companies spin off assets.

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ECB Rate Cut May Not Be a Done Deal

April 30, 2013
WSJ Blogs

If you’re a betting man, then you have probably tipped Thursday as the day when the ECB cuts rates.

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US Home Prices Jump 9.3 percent in February from a Year Ago, Largest Amount since May 2006

April 30, 2013
Associated Press

U.S. home prices rose 9.3 percent in February compared with a year ago, the most in nearly seven years. The gains were driven by a growing number of buyers who bid on a limited supply of homes.

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Zombie Foreclosure Statistics Scary

April 19, 2013
Chicago Tribune

This is how hot this "zombie" thing has become in our culture - they've sleepwalked their way off the TV screen and into the real estate market.

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Robo-Signed Collection Cases Under Fire

April17, 2013
Yahoo! Finance

Millions of debt collection cases could be fatally flawed -- even when a judge has already banged down the gavel and allowed a debt buyer to seize a debtor's assets.

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Doctors Driven to Bankruptcy

April 8, 2013
CNN Money

It's a trend that's accelerated in recent years, industry experts say, with potentially serious consequences for doctors and patients. Some physicians are still able to keep practicing after bankruptcy, but for others, it's a career-ending event. And when a practice shuts its doors, patients can find it harder to get the health care they need nearby.

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Judge Rules Stockton, Calif., to Enter Bankruptcy

April 01, 2013
Bloomberg Business Week

A judge accepted the California city of Stockton's bankruptcy application on Monday, making it the most populous city in the nation to enter bankruptcy.

The Two Sides of America’s “Economic Recovery”: Stock Markets and Food Stamps at Record Highs

March 30, 2013
Global Research

News this past week focused attention on two economic indices in the US: record numbers of people on food stamps and a new high for the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index. Their juxtaposition speaks to the reality of the economic "recovery," whose most basic feature is a widening of the social divide in America.

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Breakingviews: Pensions Need to Share Pain When Cities Go Broke

March 28, 2013
Thomson Reuters

Pensions need to share the pain when U.S. cities go broke. California's Stockton wants bondholders to pay for its financial woes while leaving retirement benefits intact. That's unfair and undermines the law's power to rein in runaway pension costs. The federal judge who is considering the Golden State city's pleas for bankruptcy protection should insists its representatives revise their position.

Regulators Roll Out Streamlined Mortgage Modification Program

March 28, 2013
Los Angeles Times

In a push to simplify mortgage modifications, federal regulators announced a streamlined process that doesn't require borrowers to prove a hardship.

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WSJ: US to Crack Down on 'Forced' Homeowners Insurance

March 26, 2013
Money News

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is going after banks for pushing expensive home insurance, which earns the banks large fees, on struggling homeowners.

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US Student Loan Write-offs hit $3 Bln in 1st Two Months of Year

March 25, 2013
Reuters

U.S. banks wrote off $3 billion of student loan debt in the first two months of 2013, up more than 36 percent from the year-ago period, as many graduates remain jobless, underemployed or cash-strapped in a slow U.S. economic recovery, an Equifax study showed.

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Big Banks Engaging in Payday Lending, Report Says

March 20, 2013
Washington Post

Some of the nation’s largest banks are providing short-term loans with interest rates of up to 300 percent, driving borrowers into a cycle of debt, according to a new report from the Center for Responsible Lending.

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Saving Enough for Retirement? Study Finds Lack of Confidence Persists, Despite Market Rebound

March 19, 2013
Fox News

Workers appear to have little faith that the economic recovery and the stock market’s climb have left them better-prepared for retirement.

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U.S. ‘Underwater’ Homeowners Regain Equity as Prices Rise

March 19, 2013
Bloomberg

About 200,000 U.S. homeowners regained positive equity in their properties in the fourth quarter as prices rebounded from a more than five-year slump, according to CoreLogic Inc. (CLGX)

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February Bankruptcy Filings Decrease 21 Percent from Previous Year, Commercial Filings Fall 29 Percent

March 5, 2013
American Bankruptcy Institute

Total bankruptcy filings in the United States decreased 21 percent in February over last year, according to data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc. Bankruptcy filings totaled 82,285 in February 2013, down from the February 2012 total of 104,537. Consumer filings declined 21 percent to 78,611 from the February 2012 consumer filing total of 99,378. Total commercial filings in February 2013 decreased to 3,674, representing a 29 percent decline from the 5,159 business filings recorded in February 2012. Total commercial chapter 11 filings also decreased 21 percent, to 609 filings in February from the 756 commercial chapter 11 filings recorded in February 2012.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana Area Local Market Report, Third Quarter 2012

National Association of Realtors

Information has been released regarding the housing market in Los Angeles for the third quarter of 2012.

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Trial on Stockton, California's Bankruptcy Eligibility Next Month

February 26, 2013
Reuters

The federal judge overseeing the municipal bankruptcy case of Stockton, California on Tuesday ordered a trial next month over the issue of the city's eligibility to pursue bankruptcy protection from its creditors.

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Average Americans are Feeling Pain of U.S. Debt

February 25, 2013
Los Angeles Times

When it comes to the nation's debt, payback time might be here.

Years of low tax rates and rising federal spending, amplified by the devastating economic effect of the Great Recession, have driven the U.S. borrowing tab to more than $16 trillion from less than $1 trillion in 1981.

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Despite Aid, Borrowers Still Face Foreclosure

February 21, 2013
New York Times

A year after five of the nation’s biggest banks reached a pact with state and federal officials over claims of vast foreclosure abuses, the banks are taking credit for giving more than half a million struggling homeowners roughly $45.8 billion in relief.

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Financial Crisis Cost Tops $22 Trillion, GAO Says

February 14, 2013
Huffington Post

The 2008 financial crisis cost the U.S. economy more than $22 trillion, a study by the Government Accountability Office published Thursday said. The financial reform law that aims to prevent another crisis, by contrast, will cost a fraction of that.

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U.S. Foreclosure Activity Fell in January -RealtyTrac

February 14, 2013
Reuters

Foreclosure activity declined in January as the number of U.S. homes starting the process fell to the lowest level in more than six years, but the varying legal requirements in each state continued to influence regional markets, data from RealtyTrac showed on Thursday.

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U.S. Added 157,000 Jobs In January; Unemployment Rises To 7.9%

February 1, 2013
Forbes

Only slightly emboldened by the compromise on tax increases reached in early January, American employers added 157,000 last month. The unemployment rate, meantime, climbed slightly to 7.9%, new Labor Department figures show.

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LPS Reaches $120 Million Deal in ‘Robosigning’ Probe

January 31, 2013
Bloomberg

Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) reached a multistate settlement to resolve claims of improper foreclosure practices, including the “robosigning” of documents used to repossess homes.

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GDP Shows Surprise Drop for US in Fourth Quarter

January 30, 2013
CNBC

The U.S. economy posted a stunning drop of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus.

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U.S. Court Ruling Threatens Consumer Bureau Decisions

January 25, 2013
Bloomberg

A federal court ruling limiting presidential appointment power could jeopardize a large swath of the work undertaken by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the last year.

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US Consumer Bureau Issues Rules to Clean Up Mortgage Servicing

January 17, 2013
Reuters

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced new rules for mortgage servicers on Thursday to help prevent the sloppy practices that aggravated the U.S. foreclosure crisis.

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Banks to pay $8.5 Billion in Foreclosure Settlement

January 7, 2013
CNN Money

The deal, brokered by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, includes $3.3 billion in direct payments to borrowers as well as $5.2 billion in other assistance, like loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments.

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Banks Reach Settlements on Mortgages

January 7, 2013
New York Times

Bank of America agreed on Monday to pay more than $10 billion to Fannie Mae to settle claims over troubled mortgages that soured during the housing crash, mostly loans issued by the bank’s Countrywide Financial subsidiary.

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Bank of America in $10 Billion Settlement With Fannie Mae

January 7, 2013
CNN Money

BofA (BAC, Fortune 500) will pay $3.55 billion in cash to Fannie as part of the deal. It will also repurchase 30,000 questionable mortgages that are likely to produce losses, paying Fannie $6.75 billion for the loans. The loans had been bundled into mortgage-backed securities, and then were bought and guaranteed by Fannie Mae.

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$10-Billion Settlement of Foreclosure Abuse Cases Said to Be Near

January 6, 2013
Los Angeles Time

Banks and regulators worked late Sunday to finalize a nearly $10-billion settlement that would halt a much-maligned program to review foreclosures from the height of the housing crisis, according to four people familiar with the talks.

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Certain Exemptions for California Bankruptcy Debtors have Increased, Effective 1/1/13

California Assembly Bill 929, took effect on January 1, 2013, increasing certain exemptions available to bankruptcy debtors under CCP Sections 703 and 704. This legislation was introduced by Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski, who is also a long-time NACBA member. We have learned that Rep. Wieckowski has been named the Chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee in the legislative session which began on December 1, 2012, and NACBA looks forward to working closely with him in this session to address further revisions needed to CCP 703 and 704.

Here are some highlights of California Assembly Bill 929:

  • Increases the dollar amount of the exemptions for various categories under CCP 703.140(b)
  • For the personal injury exemption under CCP 703.140(b)(11)(D), eliminates the exclusion for pain, suffering and actual pecuniary loss
  • Expands the motor vehicle exemption under CCP 703.140 (b)(2) to one or more vehicles
  • Increases the maximum income threshold for persons 55+ years of age to be eligible for the $175,000 homestead exemption under CCP 704.
  • Beginning April 1, 2013, and every 3 years thereafter, requires the Judicial Council to submit to the Legislature the amount by which the homestead exemptions may be adjusted based on the change in the annual California Consumer Price Index

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