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Reforming Institutions: The Judicial Function In Bankruptcy And Public Law Litigation, William H. Simon, Kathleen G. Noonan, Jonathan C. Lipson Jan 2019

Reforming Institutions: The Judicial Function In Bankruptcy And Public Law Litigation, William H. Simon, Kathleen G. Noonan, Jonathan C. Lipson

Faculty Scholarship

Public law litigation (PLL) is among the most important and controversial types of dispute that courts face. These civil class actions seek to reform public agencies such as police departments, prison systems, and child welfare agencies that have failed to meet basic statutory or constitutional obligations. They are controversial because critics assume that judicial intervention is categorically undemocratic or beyond judicial expertise.

This Article reveals flaws in these criticisms by comparing the judicial function in PLL to that in corporate bankruptcy, where the value and legitimacy of judicial intervention are better understood and more accepted. Our comparison shows that judicial ...


Valuation Disputes In Corporate Bankruptcy, Kenneth M. Ayotte, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2018

Valuation Disputes In Corporate Bankruptcy, Kenneth M. Ayotte, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Prior scholarship points to disagreements about valuation and judicial valuation error as key drivers of Chapter 11 outcomes. Avoiding valuation disputes and valuation errors is also the underlying driver of most proposed reforms, from Baird’s auctions to Bebchuk’s options. In this paper, we undertake a detailed examination of bankruptcy court opinions involving valuation disputes. Our paper has two goals. The first is to understand how parties and their expert witnesses justify their opposing views to the judge, and how judges decide between them. The second is to provide practical guidance to judges in resolving valuation disputes. We document ...


Race And Bankruptcy, Edward R. Morrison, Belisa Pang, Antoine Uettwiller Jan 2018

Race And Bankruptcy, Edward R. Morrison, Belisa Pang, Antoine Uettwiller

Faculty Scholarship

Among consumers who file for bankruptcy, African Americans file Chapter 13 petitions at substantially higher rates than other racial groups. Some have hypothesized that the difference is attributable to discrimination by attorneys. We show that the difference may be attributable, in substantial part, to a selection effect: Among distressed consumers, African Americans have longer commutes to work, rely more heavily on cars for the commute, and therefore have greater demand for a bankruptcy process (Chapter 13) that allows them to retain their cars. We begin by showing that African Americans tend to have longer commuting times than other consumers and ...


Courts As Institutional Reformers: Bankruptcy And Public Law Litigation, Kathleen G. Noonan, Jonathan C. Lipson, William H. Simon Jan 2017

Courts As Institutional Reformers: Bankruptcy And Public Law Litigation, Kathleen G. Noonan, Jonathan C. Lipson, William H. Simon

Faculty Scholarship

This article compares two spheres in which courts induce and oversee the restructuring of organizations that fail systematically to comply with their legal obligations: bankruptcy reorganization and public law litigation (civil rights or regulatory suits seeking structural remedies). The analogies between bankruptcy and public law litigation (PLL) have grown stronger in recent years as structural decrees have evolved away from highly specific directives to “framework” decrees designed to induce engagement with stakeholders and make performance transparent. We use the comparison with bankruptcy, where the value and legitimacy of judicial intervention are better understood and more accepted, to address prominent criticisms ...


Courts As Institutional Reformers: Bankruptcy And Public Law Litigation, Kathleen G. Noonan, Jonathan C. Lipson, William H. Simon Jan 2017

Courts As Institutional Reformers: Bankruptcy And Public Law Litigation, Kathleen G. Noonan, Jonathan C. Lipson, William H. Simon

Faculty Scholarship

This article compares two spheres in which courts induce and oversee the restructuring of organizations that fail systematically to comply with their legal obligations: bankruptcy reorganization and public law litigation (civil rights or regulatory suits seeking structural remedies). The analogies between bankruptcy and public law litigation (PLL) have grown stronger in recent years as structural decrees have evolved away from highly specific directives to “framework” decrees designed to induce engagement with stakeholders and make performance transparent. We use the comparison with bankruptcy, where the value and legitimacy of judicial intervention are better understood and more accepted, to address prominent criticisms ...


Consumer Bankruptcy Pathologies, Edward R. Morrison, Antoine Uettwiller Jan 2016

Consumer Bankruptcy Pathologies, Edward R. Morrison, Antoine Uettwiller

Faculty Scholarship

This paper questions several longstanding descriptions of consumer bankruptcy in the United States. We focus on Chapter 13, which discharges debts after consumers pay disposable income to creditors for up to five years. Many studies document pathologies, including high failure rates, racial disparities, low creditor recoveries, and attorney biases. We observe the same patterns in new data drawn from Cook County, Illinois, but show that these pathologies are central tendencies that ignore substantial heterogeneity across consumers. Several are driven by subsets of consumers; some disappear once we account for account for consumer heterogeneity. We present new evidence that some pathologies ...


Extraterritorial Avoidance Actions: Lessons From Madoff, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2015

Extraterritorial Avoidance Actions: Lessons From Madoff, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

The Madoff case provided fertile ground for testing boundaries of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This paper looks at one boundary-testing dispute that forced the SDNY District Court to assess the extraterritorial reach of rules governing recovery of fraudulent transfers. The trustee for the Madoff estate sought to recover property that had been transferred from Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to offshore feeder funds, which in turn transferred the property to customers located abroad. The SDNY court stopped the trustee. In its view, the trustee was seeking extraterritorial application of Section 550, that the text of this section does not overcome ...


Leverage, Default, And Mortality: Evidence From Cancer Diagnoses, Arpit Gupta, Edward R. Morrison, Catherine Fedorenko, Scott Ramsey Jan 2015

Leverage, Default, And Mortality: Evidence From Cancer Diagnoses, Arpit Gupta, Edward R. Morrison, Catherine Fedorenko, Scott Ramsey

Faculty Scholarship

This paper tests whether housing wealth mitigates the effects of health shocks on financial stress and mortality. We link cancer records to mortgage, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and credit report data. We find that cancer diagnoses are financially destabilizing even for households with health insurance, but the effect is driven by households without home equity. Households with equity extract it (by refinancing a mortgage or taking out a second). They are also more likely to accept recommended therapies and have higher post-diagnosis survival rates. Our findings show that housing wealth plays an important role in understanding how individuals buffer idiosyncratic shocks.


Rules Of Thumb For Intercreditor Agreements, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2015

Rules Of Thumb For Intercreditor Agreements, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Intercreditor agreements frequently restrict the extent to which subordinated creditors can participate in the bankruptcy process by, for example, contesting liens of senior lenders, objecting to a cash collateral motion, or even exercising the right to vote on a plan of reorganization. Because intercreditor agreements can reorder the bargaining environment in bankruptcy, some judges have been unsure about their enforceability. Other judges have not hesitated to enforce the agreements, at least when they do not restrict the voting rights of subordinated creditors. This essay argues that intercreditor agreements are controversial because they pose a trade-off: they reduce bargaining costs (by ...


Rolling Back The Repo Safe Harbors, Edward R. Morrison, Mark J. Roe, Christopher S. Sontchi Jan 2014

Rolling Back The Repo Safe Harbors, Edward R. Morrison, Mark J. Roe, Christopher S. Sontchi

Faculty Scholarship

Recent decades have seen substantial expansion in exemptions from the Bankruptcy Code’s normal operation for repurchase agreements. These repos, which are equivalent to very short-term (often one-day) secured loans, are exempt from core bankruptcy rules such as the automatic stay that enjoins debt collection, rules against prebankruptcy fraudulent transfers, and rules against eve-of-bankruptcy preferential payment to favored creditors over other creditors. While these exemptions can be justified for United States Treasury securities and similarly liquid obligations backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government, they are not justified for mortgage-backed securities and other securities that ...


Health And Financial Fragility: Evidence From Car Crashes And Consumer Bankruptcy, Edward R. Morrison, Arpit Gupta, Lenora M. Olson, Lawrence Cook, Heather Keenan Jan 2013

Health And Financial Fragility: Evidence From Car Crashes And Consumer Bankruptcy, Edward R. Morrison, Arpit Gupta, Lenora M. Olson, Lawrence Cook, Heather Keenan

Faculty Scholarship

This paper assesses the importance of adverse health shocks as triggers of bankruptcy filings. We view car crashes as a proxy for health shocks and draw on a large sample of police crash reports linked to hospital admission records and bankruptcy case files. We report two findings: (i) there is a strong positive correlation between an individual's pre-shock financial condition and his or her likelihood of suffering a health shock, an example of behavioral consistency; and (ii) after accounting for this simultaneity, we are unable to identify a causal effect of health shocks on bankruptcy filing rates. These findings ...


Mortgage Modification And Strategic Behavior: Evidence From A Legal Settlement With Countrywide, Christopher J. Mayer, Edward R. Morrison, Tomasz Piskorski, Arpit Gupta Jan 2012

Mortgage Modification And Strategic Behavior: Evidence From A Legal Settlement With Countrywide, Christopher J. Mayer, Edward R. Morrison, Tomasz Piskorski, Arpit Gupta

Faculty Scholarship

We investigate whether homeowners respond strategically to news of mortgage modification programs by defaulting on their mortgages. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in modification policy induced by U.S. state government lawsuits against Countrywide Financial Corporation, which agreed to offer modifications to seriously delinquent borrowers with mortgages throughout the country. Using a difference-in-difference framework, we find that Countrywide's relative delinquency rate increased more than ten percent per month immediately after the program's announcement. The borrowers whose estimated default rates increased the most in response to the program were those who appear to have been the least likely to ...


Mortgage Modification And Strategic Behavior: Evidence From A Legal Settlement With Countrywide, Christopher J. Mayer, Edward R. Morrison, Tomasz Piskorski, Arpit Gupta Jan 2011

Mortgage Modification And Strategic Behavior: Evidence From A Legal Settlement With Countrywide, Christopher J. Mayer, Edward R. Morrison, Tomasz Piskorski, Arpit Gupta

Faculty Scholarship

We investigate whether homeowners respond strategically to news of mortgage modification programs. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in modification policy induced by U.S. state government lawsuits against Countrywide Financial Corporation, which agreed to offer modifications to seriously delinquent borrowers with subprime mortgages throughout the country. Using a difference-in-difference framework, we find that Countrywide's relative delinquency rate increased thirteen percent per month immediately after the program's announcement. The borrowers whose estimated default rates increased the most in response to the program were those who appear to have been the least likely to default otherwise, including those with substantial ...


Dodd-Frank For Bankruptcy Lawyers, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2011

Dodd-Frank For Bankruptcy Lawyers, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

The Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation creates an “Orderly Liquidation Authority” (OLA) that shares many features in common with the Bankruptcy Code. This is easy to overlook because the legislation uses a language and employs a decision-maker (both borrowed from bank regulation) that will seem foreign to bankruptcy lawyers. Our task in this essay is to identify the core congruities between OLA and the Code. In doing so, we highlight important differences and assess both their constitutionality and policy objectives. We conclude with a few thoughts on the likelihood that OLA will contribute to market stability.


Anticompetitive Regulation In The Payment Of Card Industry, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2011

Anticompetitive Regulation In The Payment Of Card Industry, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

The payment card industry in the United States has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 reflects a high-water mark of congressional influence for the industry, altering bankruptcy procedures largely for the benefit of card issuers. Since that point, Congress has turned repeatedly to rein in perceived abuses in the industry. The most substantial and direct response to the perception of abuse is the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. That statute was focused directly on the card industry and outlawed a wide variety of industry practices ...


Saving Up For Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann, Katherine M. Porter Jan 2010

Saving Up For Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann, Katherine M. Porter

Faculty Scholarship

This paper probes the puzzle of why only a few of those for whom bankruptcy would be economically valuable ever choose to file. We use empirical evidence about the patterns of bankruptcy filings to understand what drives the point in time at which the filings occur, and to generate policy recommendations about how the bankruptcy and debt-collection system sorts those that need relief from those that do not.

The paper combines three kinds of data. First, quantitative data collected from judicial filing records that show the weekly, monthly, and annual patterns of bankruptcy filings. Second, 40 interviews with industry professionals ...


Debt, Bankruptcy, And The Life Course, Allison Mann, Ronald J. Mann, Sophie Staples Jan 2009

Debt, Bankruptcy, And The Life Course, Allison Mann, Ronald J. Mann, Sophie Staples

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay considers the significance of credit markets and bankruptcy for life course mobility. Comparing parallel data from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and the 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project (CBP), it analyzes use of the bankruptcy process as a function of the distribution of unplanned events, the ability of households to use credit markets to limit the adverse effects of such events, and barriers in access to the bankruptcy system. Our findings suggest two things. One, although the financial characteristics of filers vary markedly by age and race, bankrupt households generally come from the bottom quartiles of the ...


The Economics Of Bankruptcy: An Introduction To The Literature, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2009

The Economics Of Bankruptcy: An Introduction To The Literature, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

This essay surveys important contributions to the economics of bankruptcy. It is an introductory chapter for a forthcoming volume (from Edward Elgar Press) that compiles the work of legal scholars as well as economists working in the field of corporate finance. The essay begins with the foundational theories of Baird, Jackson, and Rea and then collects scholarly work extending, testing, or revising those theories. At various points I identify questions that merit further study, particularly empirical testing.


Is The Bankruptcy Code An Adequate Mechanism For Resolving The Distress Of Systemically Important Institutions, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2009

Is The Bankruptcy Code An Adequate Mechanism For Resolving The Distress Of Systemically Important Institutions, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Lehman’s bankruptcy has triggered calls for new approaches to rescuing systemically important institutions. This essay assesses and confirms the need for a new approach. It identifies the inadequacies of the Bankruptcy Code and advocates an approach modeled on the current regime governing commercial banks. That regime includes both close monitoring when a bank is healthy and aggressive intervention when it is distressed. The two tasks – monitoring and intervention – are closely tied, ensuring that intervention occurs only when there is a well-established need for it. The same approach should be applied to all systemically important institutions. President Obama and the ...


Chrysler, Gm And The Future Of Chapter 11, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2009

Chrysler, Gm And The Future Of Chapter 11, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Although they caused great controversy, the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies broke no new ground. They invoked procedures that are commonly observed in modern Chapter 11 reorganization cases. Government involvement did not distort the bankruptcy process; it instead exposed the reality that Chapter 11 offers secured creditors – especially those that supply financing during the bankruptcy case – control over the fate of distressed firms. Because the federal government supplied financing in the Chrysler and GM cases, it possessed the creditor control normally exercised by private lenders. The Treasury Department found itself with virtually the same, unchecked power that the FDIC exercises with ...


Creditor Control And Conflict In Chapter 11, Kenneth M. Ayotte, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Creditor Control And Conflict In Chapter 11, Kenneth M. Ayotte, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

We analyze a sample of large privately and publicly held businesses that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions during 2001. We find pervasive creditor control. In contrast to traditional views of Chapter 11, equityholders and managers exercise little or no leverage during the reorganization process: Seventy percent of CEOs are replaced in the two years before a bankruptcy filing; very few reorganization plans (at most eight percent) deviate from the absolute priority rule in order to distribute value to equityholders. Senior lenders exercise significant control through stringent covenants contained in DIP loans, such as line-item budgets. Unsecured creditors gain leverage through ...


Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Most nations have enacted statutes governing business liquidation and reorganization. These statutes are the primary focus when policymakers and scholars discuss ways to improve laws governing business failure. This focus is misplaced, at least for distressed small businesses in the United States.

Evidence from a major credit bureau shows that over eighty percent of these businesses liquidate or reorganize without invoking the formal Bankruptcy Code.

The businesses instead invoke procedures derived from the laws of contracts, secured lending, and trusts. These procedures can be cheaper and speedier than a formal bankruptcy filing, but they typically require unanimous consent of senior ...


Making Sense Of Nation-Level Bankruptcy Filing Rates, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2008

Making Sense Of Nation-Level Bankruptcy Filing Rates, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

Increased rates of consumer bankruptcy filings are a policy concern around the world. It is not easy, however, to explain the variations in per capita filing rates from country to country. Some of the variation is attributable to different levels of indebtedness. Some is attributable to different cultural attitudes about financial failure. And some is attributable to the accessibility of the legal system as a remedy for irremediable financial distress.

This paper analyzes the differences in nation-level, per capita filing rates. I start with a model that uses economic variables to explain nation-level variations in filing rates. The economic and ...


Who Needs Bankruptcy Law?, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Who Needs Bankruptcy Law?, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

This essay summarizes four papers: “Bargaining Around Bankruptcy: Small Business Distress and State Law,” 38 Journal of Legal Studies 255 (2009); “Bankruptcy’s Rarity: An Essay on Small Business Bankruptcy in the United States,” 5 European Company & Financial Law Review 172 (2008); “Small Business Bankruptcy and the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act of 2005,” A Report to the United States Small Business Administration (2007); and Douglas G. Baird & Edward R. Morrison, “Serial Entrepreneurs and Small Business Bankruptcies,” 105 Columbia Law Review 2310 (2005).


Bargaining Around Bankruptcy: Small Business Workouts And State Law, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Bargaining Around Bankruptcy: Small Business Workouts And State Law, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

In the United States, few failing businesses invoke the Bankruptcy Code to reorganize or liquidate. Most use non-bankruptcy procedures to accomplish the same purposes. These procedures include voluntary agreements between the debtor and its creditors (workouts) and formal devices such as friendly foreclosures, bulk sales, and assignments for the benefit of creditors. This paper documents the importance of non-bankruptcy procedures using firm-level data from Cook County, Illinois. I find that these procedures are used by eighty percent of distressed small businesses. The paper also identifies the conditions under which a business chooses federal bankruptcy law over non-bankruptcy procedures. I model ...


Making Sense Of Nation-Level Bankruptcy Filing Rates, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2007

Making Sense Of Nation-Level Bankruptcy Filing Rates, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

Increased rates of consumer bankruptcy filings are a policy concern around the world. It is not easy, however, to explain the variations in per capita filing rates from country to country. Some of the variation is attributable to different levels of indebtedness. Some is attributable to different cultural attitudes about financial failure. And some is attributable to the accessibility of the legal system as a remedy for irremediable financial distress.

This paper analyzes the differences in nation-level, per capita filing rates. I start with a model that uses economic variables to explain nation-level variations in filing rates. The economic and ...


Timbers Of Inwood Forest, The Economics Of Rent, And The Evolving Dynamics Of Chapter 11, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2007

Timbers Of Inwood Forest, The Economics Of Rent, And The Evolving Dynamics Of Chapter 11, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

The Supreme Court's decision in Timbers of Inwood Forest occupies an unhappy position in bankruptcy case law. It is often remembered as a troubled interpretation of the Code, denying undersecured creditors compensation for an important source of depreciation – depreciation in the real value of a creditor's claim during a lengthy reorganization process. But Timbers was not a simple case in which a bank was denied adequate protection for lost investment opportunities. It was instead a case in which the bank tried to opt out of the bankruptcy process itself. The debtor was an apartment complex. After it entered ...


Credit Cards, Consumer Credit, And Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2006

Credit Cards, Consumer Credit, And Bankruptcy, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

This paper analyzes the effects of credit card use on broader economic indicators, specifically consumer credit, and consumer bankruptcy filings. Using aggregate nation-level data from Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, I find that credit card spending, lagged by 1-2 years, has a strong positive effect on consumer credit. Finally, I find a strong relation between credit card debt, lagged by 1-2 years, and bankruptcy, and a weaker relation between consumer credit, lagged by 1-2 years, and bankruptcy. The relations are robust across a variety of different lags and models that account for problems of multicollinearity ...


Financial Contracts And The New Bankruptcy Code: Insulating Markets From Bankrupt Debtors And Bankruptcy Judges, Edward R. Morrison, Joerg Riegel Jan 2006

Financial Contracts And The New Bankruptcy Code: Insulating Markets From Bankrupt Debtors And Bankruptcy Judges, Edward R. Morrison, Joerg Riegel

Faculty Scholarship

The reforms of 2005 yield important but subtle changes in the Bankruptcy Code's treatment of financial contracts. They might appear only to eliminate longstanding uncertainty surrounding the protections available to financial contract counterparties, especially counterparties to repurchase transactions and other derivative contracts. But the ambit of the reforms is much broader. The expanded definitions – especially the definition of "swap agreement" – are now so broad that nearly every derivative contract is subject to the Code's protection. Instead of protecting particular counterparties to particular transactions, the Code now protects any counterparty to any derivative contract. Entire markets have been insulated ...


Bankruptcy Decisionmaking: An Empirical Study Of Continuation Bias In Small-Business Bankruptcies, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2006

Bankruptcy Decisionmaking: An Empirical Study Of Continuation Bias In Small-Business Bankruptcies, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Over half of all small businesses reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code are ultimately liquidated. Little is known about this shutdown decision and about the factors that increase or reduce the amount of time a firm spends in bankruptcy. It is widely suspected, however, that the Chapter 11 process exhibits a "continuation bias," allowing non-viable firms to linger under the protection of the court. This paper tests for the presence of continuation bias in the docket of a typical bankruptcy court over the course of a calendar year. A variety of tests are employed, including the ...