Daily News on Bankruptcy
A steady diet of the NYT articles on bankruptcy and credit.
A steady diet of NYT articles on personal bankruptcy .
Active discussion of news of the day by bankruptcy law professors and lawyers. A good source of links to newsworthy events in politics and finance that affect the world of credit and bankruptcy.
Another discussion by law professors. Good source for caselaw and rules developments, as well as legislation.
News stories as tracked by the website of the National Association for Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
An excellent, well-organized archive of timely articles on economic data affecting the debt and credit industry. The link below is for Credit Card news, but be sure to hover your cursor over the News & Analysis link for a list of other areas you can search:
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Credit Card news & info
Center for Responsible Lending keeps up to date with debt and credit issues affecting low income borrowers. They have a whole page devoted to news and regulation of credit card abuses.
CreditCards.com News & Advice page keeps up to date on pending legislation and rulemaking affecting consumer credit cards
Bankrate.com blog tracks news events, and the site is an excellect source of finding competitive itnterest rates and credit card deals.
A lot has been written lately about whether bankruptcy makes sense for people, in light of the economic downturn, including these articles:
Bankruptcy & the Credit Bubble
Numbers to Watch & Where to Find Them
You can follow the credit bubble as it pops and splatters its way through our financial institutions at http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases, where the Federal Reserve posts monthly reports that track the effects of the credit crisis on America's financial infrastructure.
If the flow of money is the fuel of American capitalism, then these reports are the fuel gauges. The Fed's unglamorous reports give us hard data on how much money is coursing through the American economy.
- Monthly G.19 Reports. These are the reports on consumer borrowing, both traditional loans (such as car loans) and "revolving debt," also known as credit cards. Each month, the Fed lists the total amount Americans have on our credit card bills. The amounts are staggering -- $968 billion in credit card debt, more than 7% higher than just last year -- and show no signs of shrinking. Read more at http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/.
- The "charge off" rate. This is the percent of loans, including credit card balances, that the lender has written off as uncollectible. The latest figures show that banks are giving up on 5.47% of the credit card amounts owed to them. This figure is the highest since the current bankruptcy law took effect, with the exception of a brief flurry of bankruptcies before the passage of the law. More information here: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/chargeoff/.
- The savings rate. This data shows how much Americans are saving each year. It's been hovering between zero and 2% for five years: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/PSAVERT. For other Fed research data on personal spending, see http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm#personal.
- The bankruptcy filing rate. How many people are filing for bankruptcy, and for what kind (Chapter 7 or 13) and where (Statistics by District). This data is kept by the US court system, updated monthly and can be found here: http://www.uscourts.gov/bnkrpctystats/statistics.htm.
You can get other important numbers and information from non-governmental sources, including:
Politics & Legislation
Don't like the law? Change it! Vote the rascals out.
Click here to see how your Senator voted on bankruptcy "reform" (BAPCPA) in 2005, and how your Representative voted.
Latest on mortgage modification legislation
See National Consumer Law Center, bankruptcy news page.
And here's a BusinessWeek article and blog entry about how credit card disputes that go to arbitration rule for the credit card company 99.9% of the time.
(October 15, 2008) Read about people who waste lots of money and regret not filing bankruptcy in the first place... more...
"The Payday Loan Reform Act drags the payday loan industry out of the darkness and into the anemic firefly flicker of nominal oversight. (04:16)"
Keeping track of the influence of money in Congress
Started by Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig.
on Bankruptcy and Credit Issues
(Senator Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, Chairman)
Policing Lenders and Protecting Homeowners: Is Lender Misconduct in Bankruptcy Fueling the Foreclosure Crisis?
-- May 6, 2008
[Webcast here (Real Player)]
Watch the first five minutes to hear the sordid facts of how mortgage servicers, in this case Countrywide, pile on and inflate various transaction fees to suck the economic lifeblood from consumers as they barely struggle to make ends meet during a Chapter 13.
Worth watching (or at least listening to) while you fill out your means test form.
If you're up against a lender like the ones described in this hearing, you'll need an experienced advocate who knows thier myriad of tricks.
Read a review of the highlights of this hearing in the Credit Slips blog.
(Tim Johnson, Chairman)
Hearings of Note:
Click 'n Learn! If you're lazy but still want to be informed and understand the credit crisis, video archives of congressional hearings can be a great way to learn a lot in a short time. They won't tell you how to file for bankruptcy, but the testimony before the committees can be very informative. And it's all on video, so they you can view or listen to them in the background while you do other things on your computer.
Learn about how truly ravenous the credit industry is, and how toothless the laws really are!
Why aren't such practices illegal?
Because voters aren't paying attention!
Click and learn!
Credit Card Fees
“Examining the Billing, Marketing, and Disclosure Practices of the Credit Card Industry, and Their Impact on Consumers.”
The new Congress is showing early signs that it may act to regulate the hugely profitable practice bait-and-switch credit card offers and exorbitant late fees. , the new Democratic Senate had a hearing on the issue.
Webcast of hearing (archive)
(3 hours long. Testimony begins at 56 minute mark)
NPR report on the hearing
Testimony of Elizabeth Warren
Harvard Law professor clearly makes the case for regulation of consumer credit contracts. Consumers need to be protected from deceptive and dangerous credit deals in the for the same reason we have laws that prohibit the sale of unsafe toasters and cars: Safety laws mean you don't need to be an engineer to avoid buying a dangerous toaster. Likewise, consumers shouldn't need to be CPAs to avoid a signing a dangerous credit contract.
Ending Mortgage Abuse: Safeguarding Homebuyers (june 26, 2007) (video - RealPlayer format ) Hear horror stories of how lenders reap huge transaction fees by pressuring people into making financially stupid and harmful decisions, and learn how the banking industry profits mightily from such practices...., and suggesting, perhaps, that such practices be outlawed... Believe it or not, bankers object to
Subprime Mortgage Market Turmoil: Examining the Role of Securitization (April, 17, 2007)
(no video available)
Mortgage Market Turmoil: Causes and Consequences (March, 22, 2007)
Amazing this was held so long ago. Progressive Democrats in Congress were way ahead of the media on this one.
Senator Dodd's opening statement lays it out in plain English, what we're experiencing today and why. Note that Dodd's remarks were made two years ago. Dodd is one of the few politicians who really gets these issues and is paying attention. And that's why he's outraged at the common practices of the financial industry.
Not only does he get the human cost realities of predatory lending, preys on lower income and elderly Americans...
.. he also groks the larger, systemic problems of how Wall Street reckless hedge fund 'cowboy' investors looking for high yeilds teamed up with unregulated gangsta' lenders who used high pressure tactics to reap huge transaction fees from multiple, serial refinancing, peddling dangerous and harmful lending agreements like drug pushers, -- targeting vulnerable (unsophisticated) economically desperate working people, and tempting them with flashy, easy -- but ultimately financially disastrous -- loan contracts. Using the time-honored marketing of drug dealers, the first few payments were free or really cheap, then once hooked (often with with a hefty pre-payment penalty), you're charged full price, which you can't afford.
Preserving the American Dream: Predatory Lending Practices and Home Foreclosures (March, 22, 2007)
The Housing Bubble and Its Implications for the Economy (September 13, 2006)
Paying for College: The Role of Private Student Lending (March, 22, 2007)
Run by: Barney Frank (D-MA)
Other Free Audio/Video
This is a one-hour radio documentary and website about bankruptcy
in america from American RadioWorks and Marketplace from American
See also: "The
boom in going bust" -- a report by Marketplace reporter
Chris Farrell on a day in bankruptcy court.
This AmericanLife/NPR present one of the clearest explanations of how the housing crisis happened. One hour long.
See also: this update of the origional episode.
Media Reports on How the Credit Card Industry Reaps Billions in Profits From Distressed Debtors
Feeling bad about your bankruptcy?
The banking industry has made a calculated science of reaping billions of profits from distressed debtors. By casting a wide net to grant credit to everyone, the real "sweet spot" for banks is the distressed debtor that is caught a never ending cycle of penalties, fees, and exorbitant interest rates (that would have been illegal a generation ago)
The issues covered in this 2004 documentary
are still current, and worth watching. It's an excellent
recounting by PBS and The New York Times of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling almost 20 years ago opened the door to abusive lending practices and the rise of the modern credit
card industry. After watching
this, you'll understand why your credit
card company is probably based in South Dakota or Delaware.
PBS: Frontline Video and Articles
NY Times: Articles
How unregulated subprime lending destroyed the housing stock of Cleveland
Excellent report on how lack of regulation allowed "usury" to no longer be a crime, and allowed predatory lenders to sell financial snake-oil all without regulation.
Describes how the inevitable logic of human greed, left unregulated, led banks to make billions by peddling financial snake-oil to naive, cash strapped consumers to sign the equity in their their paid-for houses as collateral for loans they would never be able to pay.... And now whole neighborhoods lie abandoned and falling into ruin, resulting in further loss of wealth base in communities that can ill affford it.
So much for the invisible hand....