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Full-Text Articles in Law

Bankruptcy For Banks: A Tribute (And Little Plea) To Jay Westbrook, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2021

Bankruptcy For Banks: A Tribute (And Little Plea) To Jay Westbrook, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this brief essay, to be included in a book celebrating the work of Jay Westbrook, I begin by surveying Jay’s wide-ranging contributions to bankruptcy scholarship. Jay’s functional analysis has had a profound effect on scholars’ understanding of key issues in domestic bankruptcy law, and Jay has been the leading scholarly figure on cross-border insolvency. After surveying Jay’s influence, I turn to the topic at hand: a proposed reform that would facilitate the use of bankruptcy to resolve the financial distress of large financial institutions. Jay has been a strong critic of this legislation, arguing that financial ...


Distorted Choice In Corporate Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2020

Distorted Choice In Corporate Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

We ordinarily assume that a central objective of every voting process is ensuring an undistorted vote. Recent developments in corporate bankruptcy, which culminates with an elaborate vote, are quite puzzling from this perspective. Two strategies now routinely used in big cases are intended to distort, and clearly do distort, the voting process. Restructuring support agreements (RSAs) and “deathtrap” provisions remove creditors’ ability to vote for or against a proposed reorganization simply on the merits.

This Article offers the first comprehensive analysis of these new distortive techniques. One possible solution is simply to ban distortive techniques, as several scholars advocate with ...


Bankruptcy’S Role In The Covid-19 Crisis, Edward R. Morrison, Andrea C. Saavedra Jan 2020

Bankruptcy’S Role In The Covid-19 Crisis, Edward R. Morrison, Andrea C. Saavedra

Faculty Scholarship

Policymakers have minimized the role of bankruptcy law in mitigating the financial fallout from COVID-19. Scholars too are unsure about the merits of bankruptcy, especially Chapter 11, in resolving business distress. We argue that Chapter 11 complements current stimulus policies for large corporations, such as the airlines, and that Treasury should consider making it a precondition for receiving government-backed financing. Chapter 11 offers a flexible, speedy, and crisis-tested tool for preserving businesses, financing them with government funds (if necessary), and ensuring that the costs of distress are borne primarily by investors, not taxpayers. Chapter 11 saves businesses and employment, not ...


Foreword: Bankruptcy’S New And Old Frontiers, William W. Bratton, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2018

Foreword: Bankruptcy’S New And Old Frontiers, William W. Bratton, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Symposium marks the fortieth anniversary of the enactment of the 1978 Bankruptcy Code (the “1978 Code” or the “Code”) with an extended look at seismic changes that currently are reshaping Chapter 11 reorganization. Today’s typical Chapter 11 case looks radically different than did the typical case in the Code’s early years. In those days, Chapter 11 afforded debtors a cozy haven. Most everything that mattered occurred within the context of the formal proceeding, where the debtor enjoyed agenda control, a leisurely timetable, and judicial solicitude. The safe haven steadily disappeared over time, displaced by a range of ...


The Value Of Soft Variables In Corporate Reorganizations, Michelle M. Harner Jan 2015

The Value Of Soft Variables In Corporate Reorganizations, Michelle M. Harner

Faculty Scholarship

When a company is worth more as a going concern than on a liquidation basis, what creates that additional value? Is it the people, management decisions, the simple synergies of the operating business, or some combination of these types of soft variables? And perhaps more importantly, who owns or has an interest in these soft variables? This article explores these questions under existing legal doctrine and practice norms. Specifically, it discusses the characterization of soft variables under applicable law and in financing documents, and it surveys related judicial decisions. It also considers the overarching public policy and Constitutional implications of ...


Rediscovering Corporate Governance In Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2015

Rediscovering Corporate Governance In Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this Essay on Lynn LoPucki and Bill Whitford’s corporate reorganization project, written for a symposium honoring Bill Whitford, I begin by very briefly describing its historical antecedents. The project draws on the insights and perspectives of two closely intertwined traditions: the legal realism of 1930s, whose exemplars included William Douglas and other participants in the SEC study; and the law in action movement at the University of Wisconsin. In Section II, I briefly survey the key contributions of the corporate governance project, which punctured the then-conventional wisdom about the treatment of shareholders in bankruptcy, managers’ principal allegiance, and ...


Committee Capture? An Empirical Analysis Of The Role Of Creditors' Committees In Business Reorganizations, Michelle M. Harner, Jamie Marincic Jan 2011

Committee Capture? An Empirical Analysis Of The Role Of Creditors' Committees In Business Reorganizations, Michelle M. Harner, Jamie Marincic

Faculty Scholarship

The number of businesses experiencing financial distress increased significantly during the past several years. The number of Chapter 11 reorganization cases likewise rose. And many of these business failures were spectacular, leaving little value for creditors and even less for shareholders. Consequently, how the business debtor’s limited asset pie is divided and who gets to allocate the pieces are very relevant and important questions.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Code generally contemplates the appointment of a committee of the debtors’ unsecured creditors to serve as a fiduciary for all general unsecured creditors and as a statutory watchdog over the debtor ...


Creditor Control And Conflict In Chapter 11, Kenneth M. Ayotte, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2009

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, equity holders and managers exercise little or no leverage during the reorganization process. 70 percent of CEOs are replaced in the two years before a bankruptcy filing, and few reorganization plans (at most 12 percent) deviate from the absolute priority rule to distribute value to equity holders. Senior lenders exercise significant control through stringent covenants, such as line-item budgets, in loans extended to firms in bankruptcy. Unsecured creditors ...


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 ...


Bankruptcy Noir, James J. White Jan 2008

Bankruptcy Noir, James J. White

Articles

In Bankruptcy Fire Sales, Professor LoPucki and Dr. Doherty do two things. First, they present provocative data about the relative payoff to be had in Chapter 11 by a full reorganization compared with the payoff from a section 363 sale without a full reorganization. Second, they give a yet more provocative explanation for their data. Taking a page from Professor LoPucki's recent book, they blame the meager return that they observe on 363 sales on the unprincipled behavior of the lawyers, managers, creditors, investment bankers, and even judges involved in the sales. Messrs. LoPucki and Doherty's data appear ...


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 ...


Enforcing Corporate Fiduciary Duties In Bankruptcy, Kelli A. Alces Oct 2007

Enforcing Corporate Fiduciary Duties In Bankruptcy, Kelli A. Alces

Scholarly Publications

No abstract provided.


Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2005

Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Chapter 11 is thought to preserve the going-concern surplus of a financially distressed business – the extra value that its assets possess in their current configuration. Financial distress leads to conflicts among creditors that can lead to inefficient liquidation of a business with going-concern surplus. Chapter 11 avoids this by providing the business with a way of fashioning a new capital structure. This account of Chapter 11 fails to capture what is happening in the typical case. The typical Chapter 11 debtor is a small corporation whose assets are not specialized and rarely worth enough to pay tax claims. There is ...


Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2005

Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Chapter 11 is thought to preserve the going-concern surplus of a financially distressed business – the extra value that its assets possess in their current configuration. Financial distress leads to conflicts among creditors that can lead to inefficient liquidation of a business with going-concern surplus. Chapter 11 avoids this by providing the business with a way of fashioning a new capital structure. This account of Chapter 11 fails to capture what is happening in the typical case. The typical Chapter 11 debtor is a small corporation whose assets are not specialized and rarely worth enough to pay tax claims. There is ...


Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2005

Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

This empirical study suggests that, far from ensuring assets are put to their best use, Chapter 11 encourages small-business entrepreneurs to remain too long with failed businesses before trying to start (or work for) new ones. Small entrepreneurs open and close a number of businesses over the course of their careers as they search for the business (or employer) that offers the best match with their skills. Chapter 11 delays this matching process and, over this dimension, differs little from rent control and other government policies that encourage socially wasteful lock-in of scarce resources. These costs may not be large ...


Bankruptcy Reorganization: Legal Dynamics Associated With Economic Discontinuity, Young Rock Noh Jan 2000

Bankruptcy Reorganization: Legal Dynamics Associated With Economic Discontinuity, Young Rock Noh

LLM Theses and Essays

This thesis attempts to discover the factors leading to such failures and to propose a cure. It argues that the basic structure of Chapter 11 of the Code, the debtor in possession structure, is one of the essential factors causing such a high rate of failure. The thesis further asserts that it is possible to reduce the rate of unsuccessful reorganization if the bankruptcy court exercises its power of case management more actively and expeditiously. For example, the court can screen the debtors' filing for relief before the reorganization case proceeds too far. Chapter II of this thesis examines the ...


Insider Guaranties In Bankruptcy: A Framework For Analysis, Marshall E. Tracht Jan 2000

Insider Guaranties In Bankruptcy: A Framework For Analysis, Marshall E. Tracht

Articles & Chapters

This article presents an economic analysis of insider guaranties in small business finance and bankruptcy, explaining their role in the panoply of legal and contractual devices used to control financial agency costs. It then uses this model to examine two areas of concern in the bankruptcy treatment of insider guaranties (the Deprizio preference problem and the enforceability of springing and exploding guaranties) and to explore some of the wider implications of insider guaranties for small business bankruptcy. Building on the fact that insider guaranties are typically used less to increase the assets available for repayment of the debt than to ...


Is Chapter 11 Too Favorable To Debtors? Evidence From Abroad, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren Sep 1997

Is Chapter 11 Too Favorable To Debtors? Evidence From Abroad, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Chapter 11 is widely believed to be among the industrialized world's most debtor-oriented reorganization laws. Critics assert that Chapter 11 is too easily available and that it allows debtors too much control by, inter alia, not requiring appointment of a trustee. One criticism of Chapter 11, low returns to unsecured creditors, resonates with an important theme of this Symposium, the Bebchuk-Fried proposal to reduce secured creditor priority in insolvency proceedings. The Chapter 11 criticisms and the Bebchuk-Fried proposal raise the question whether less easy access to Chapter 11, reduced debtor control, diminished secured creditor priority, or other changes could ...


The Value Of Obvious Empirical Results And The Omniscient Mr. Palans: Response To Mr. Palans' Comments, Theodore Eisenberg Oct 1994

The Value Of Obvious Empirical Results And The Omniscient Mr. Palans: Response To Mr. Palans' Comments, Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Mr. Palans' comment raises one worthwhile question. Most of the rest of his rant is either off the subject or too shallow to warrant extended discussion. The useful question Mr. Palans raises is whether this research is of value. The article did not defend this mode of work; perhaps I am too immersed in it to always keep in mind the merits of discussing the question. So let me spell out its benefits here.


Should We Abolish Chapter 11? The Evidence From Japan, Theodore Eisenberg, Shoichi Tagashira Jan 1994

Should We Abolish Chapter 11? The Evidence From Japan, Theodore Eisenberg, Shoichi Tagashira

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Optimizing reorganization proceedings for small and midsized businesses is an important issue in every industrial country. But little information exists about the actual operation of such proceedings. Recent U.S. bankruptcy studies focus either on consumer bankruptcies or on large Chapter 11 cases involving publicly listed firms. This article presents the results of a comprehensive empirical study of Japan's most frequently used business bankruptcy reorganization provision. Small and midsized reorganizations have become important for several reasons. First, unlike large firms, the vast majority of small businesses fail to obtain confirmation of a Chapter 11 plan and end up in ...