American Bankruptcy Institute Update

May 19, 2005

In This Issue

Highlights

Legislation Update

Schumer: Student Credit Card Use Should Need Parentsí Approval

The 5,045 college students in Otsego County, N.Y., are carrying about $11.8 million in credit-card debt, according to numbers provided Wednesday by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), DailyStar.com reported. Parents should have to give consent for students to get a credit card, Schumer said in a conference call, and then should receive a copy of the monthly bill. Schumer said he is supporting legislation requiring such consent and notification. Giving parents information would help make sure students don’t find themselves in impossible situations, he said. "That could be the greatest check of all," Schumer said. "If the parent sees the student is spending too much, they can put a lid on it." Read the full article.

U.S. Senators Call for More Credit Card Disclosure

U.S. senators on Tuesday criticized the credit card industry for unfair practices and for failing to disclose account information to consumers in a clear way, Reuters reported. "Credit card issuers have become the victims of their own success and are now turning credit cards into nothing less than wallet-sized predatory loans," said Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. About 6,000 financial institutions have issued more than 640 million credit cards in the United States, according to industry estimates. Dodd is sponsoring legislation that would bar credit card companies from issuing credit cards to anyone under 21 years of age. His bill also would require credit card companies to provide more disclosure about interest rates, prohibit finance charges for on-time payments, and bar over-the-limit fees for creditor-approved transactions. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) listed some of what he said were misleading practices by credit card companies, such as aggressive direct mail solicitations to seniors and college students and excessive late-payment penalties that can double or triple interest rates. Several credit card company executives testified about their commitment to borrow education. View witness testimony.

Specter Woos Kyl with Changes to Asbestos Legislation

Senators adopted today a package of changes to the asbestos legislation that Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is using to broaden support for the bill, CongressDaily reported. During a committee markup, Specter appeared to be reaching out most to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who has yet to give his support to the bill. One provision in the manager's package guarantees that the federal government would not become liable for any borrowing by the trust fund from the treasury. But Specter agreed with Kyl that the change was "not an absolute safeguard" against a potential taxpayer bailout of the trust fund. Kyl, though, cautioned that big changes would be needed for his support. Kyl and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the bill's lead co-sponsors, said they will work together to reach agreement on the fund's startup. The bill has the support of five Republicans and two Democrats on the committee, and needs three more votes to pass.

Specter, hampered by Democrats' invoking a procedural rule that limits committee meetings to two hours, is pressing for the panel to finish its work before Congress breaks next week for a week-long recess. He planned to continue the markup on Tuesday and have the bill ready for a floor vote when Congress returns from recess.

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit held a hearing yesterday on "Enhancing Data Security: The Regulators’ Perspective." View witness statements.

New Mortgage Guidelines Planned

Federal banking regulators, concerned about growing risks in the mortgage market, are planning to issue new guidelines for mortgage lenders, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The new guidelines, which could be completed as soon as early next year, come at a time of growing concern that the proliferation of new mortgage products could mean higher risks to borrowers and lenders. Regulators are turning their attention to mortgages after issuing their first-ever guidelines for credit-risk management for home-equity lending this week, warning financial institutions to re-examine their loan criteria.

“While delinquency and loss rates for home equity loans and lines have historically been low, the agencies have observed a rapid growth in home equity lending activity, involving products with higher embedded risk,” the Federal Reserve said in a statement. “At the same time, the agencies have noted an easing of underwriting standards. This guidance is intended to highlight the sound risk management practices that an institution should follow to keep pace with the growth and risk in its home equity portfolio.” For more information, click here.

ASM Great Debates Available Online

The Ninth Annual Great Debates, held on May 29 at ABI’s Annual Spring Meeting, are available via streaming video at http://www.abiworld.org/debates/asmdebates.html.

Asset Sales Committee e-Newsletter Available Online

The May issue of ABI’s Asset Sales Committee e-newsletter is available online. Read articles on asset sales in bankruptcy proceedings and learn about the committee’s meeting at the 2005 Annual Spring Meeting.

New Opinion Posted Online

Eastern District of Arkansas
In re Wayne H. Schultz Jr. - May 2005

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