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Investor Insights on Comerica Inc (NYSE:CMA)

[PRNewswire] Comerica Inc (NYSE:CMA)(TREND ANALYSIS)s Michigan Economic Activity Index increased in January, growing 0.3 percentage points to a level of 120.6. Januarys reading is 47 points, or 63 percent, above the index cyclical low of 73.8. The index averaged 117.6 points for all of 2014, three and three-tenths points above the index average for 2013. Decembers index reading was 120.3.
Our Michigan Economic Activity Index increased for the third consecutive month in January, indicating ongoing gains to the Michigan economy. Inputs to the headline index were mixed, with 5 out of 8 components increasing for the month, including payroll employment. We expect that the push to the Michigan economy from improving manufacturing conditions will ease in the months ahead as auto production crests at a cyclical high, and manufactured exports face increasing price competition due to a stronger dollar, said Robert Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank. We look for non-manufacturing industries to take a larger share of new jobs this year.

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The company is expected to announce next quarter earnings on April 17, at consensus estimate of $0.72. Comerica Inc (CMA) reported last quarter earnings on January 16. The Financial Services company announced earnings per share of $0.82 against a consensus Street estimate of $0.77, beating the average estimate by $0.05. This corresponds to an increase of $0.15 compared to the same quarter of the previous fiscal year.

Comerica Inc (NYSE:CMA) is currently trading 12.37% below its 52-week-high, 15.24% above its 52-week-low. The 12-months range for the stock is $40.09 $52.72. Comerica Inc (CMA) has a price to earnings ratio of 14.62 versus Samp;P 500 average of 17.42. CMA stock price has underperformed the Samp;P 500 by 3.8%. The Financial Services company is currently valued at $8.24 billion and its share price closed the last trading session at $46.2. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $45.87 and a 200-day moving average of $45.88.

Comerica Inc (CMA) current short interest stands at 9.24 million shares. It has increased by 14% from the same period of last month. Around 6% of the companys shares, which are float, are short sold. With a 10-days average volume of 1.12 million shares, the number of days required to cover the short positions stand at 8.3 days.

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There are currently thirty-four analysts that cover CMA stock. Of those thirty-four, five have a Buy rating, twenty-six have a Hold rating and three have a Sell rating. On a consensus basis this yields to a Hold rating. The consensus target price stands at $47.82.

A recent analyst activity consisted of Guggenheim Securities downgrading their Buy rating to Neutral on April 6. On the date of report, the stock closed at $45.55.

UBS initiated their coverage on the stock with Neutral rating on March 3, and fixed their price target at $47. This corresponds to a 1.73% upside from the last closing price. On the date of report, the stock closed at $45.4993.

A third research firm was Compass Point who reiterated their Neutral stance on December 30. Compass Point decreased price target from $49 to $47. This translates to a 1.73% upside from the last closing price. On the date of report, the stock closed at $46.91306.

Company profile

Comerica Incorporated is the holding company for business, individual, and investment banks with operations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Companys subsidiaries provide services such as corporate banking, international finance, treasury management, community banking, private banking, small business and individual lending, investment services, and institutional trust.

Argument preview: Justices to use consumer bankruptcy case to resolve crucial …

The last day of the March argument calendar presents the Justices with two consumer bankruptcy cases. The second case is Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, which presents a basic fact pattern doubtless repeated in tens (if not hundreds of thousands) of bankruptcy filings this decade: a bankrupt homeowner, whose home indisputably is worth far less than the mortgage that burdens it, with few other significant debts. Indeed, the Justices face that fact pattern three times this month (earlier this week in Caulkett and next Wednesday in this case and Harris v. Viegelahn).

As with Harris and Caulkett, the monetary stakes of this case are slight. But the similarities end there, for Bullard presents a procedural problem that has plagued the courts of appeals for years: whether a debtor can appeal a bankruptcy court order that denies confirmation of a plan. The ramifications of that question go far beyond individual homeowner filings; the problem is crucial in large reorganizations where plan confirmation often is quite contentious. In those cases, at least in circuits that do not permit appeal from plan denial, the refusal of a bankruptcy court to approve the debtor’s plan leaves the debtor with no practical recourse unless it can persuade the same judge that just denied confirmation to approve an immediate appeal. Because the Second Circuit is in that group of circuits, that rule applies to the many large business reorganizations filed in New York.

The problem is only exacerbated by the parallel doctrine of “equitable mootness,” which effectively bars an appeal from an order that confirms a plan: courts often hold that an appeal from creditors challenging a confirmed plan as inappropriate is “equitably” moot on the theory that it is inequitable to disturb a plan that already has gone into operation. Together, those doctrines all but insulate the process of plan approval from appellate review. It is difficult to accept the idea that something so central to the bankruptcy process, and so fundamentally contentious, should be largely insulated from appellate supervision. But that is the state of the law into which the lower courts have fallen.

Turning to the legal question presented for resolution, the statute is no more specific than you would expect. Because of the differences in the structure of appeals from bankruptcy courts (related in part to their lack of Article III status), these appeals do not fall under the traditional rule set out in Section 1291, which permits appeals only of final decisions that dispose of an entire case. Rather, courts have recognized since the nineteenth century that a bankruptcy case involves a set of discrete proceedings, which can begin, end, and be appealed separately. What the statute does not do, however, is offer any guidance as to what should count as a proceeding sufficiently separate or definite to justify an appeal from its resolution. Rather Section 158(d)(1) permits appeals not only from final “decisions” (the object of Section 1291), but also from final “judgments, orders, and decrees.” It is not at all obvious how to fit the structure of plan approval into those terms.

On the one hand, as emphasized above (perhaps tendentiously), the decision to reject a plan can effectively decide an entire case. That is clear in a case like this one, where the only practical form of plan involved a dubious legal structure for “hybrid” treatment of secured claims. The debtor in this case might tinker around the edges in designing its plan, but that is the only type of plan it possibly could confirm. On the other hand, in other cases, where the issues are more gradual, denial of one plan easily could lead to the submission and approval of a similar plan: consider a bankruptcy court’s rejection of a Chapter 13 plan in which the debtor proposes to pay ten percent of its unsecured debt, in an order explaining that the judge believes that the debtor reasonably could (and should) repay twenty percent of the claims of its unsecured creditors. In a case like that one, the denial of confirmation plainly is an interim step in a give-and-take process leading to confirmation.

My guess, given the vagueness of the statute, is that the Justices will decide this case based on their sense of the practicalities. They obviously have no desire to overwhelm the courts of appeals with trivial disputes not yet ripe for appellate consideration. But at the same time I expect they will be troubled by the practical implications of a rule that denies an appeal as of right to the debtor with a rejected plan. As the discussion above probably makes clear, I have a strong predisposition as to the direction that the practical realities point. As any reader of this blog knows, my predisposition is no reliable guide to the perspective the Justices will take at the argument next week.

Can You Discharge Private Student Loans in Bankruptcy?

There’s a big misconception that private student loans can never be discharged in bankruptcy. People have repeated that statement so often they believe it to be a fact. The only problem is its not quite true.

Some private student loans are clearly eligible to be wiped away in a consumer bankruptcy. Even in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it takes only about 90 days to forgive the debt tax-free.

And while these special rules apply to private student loans that meet some criteria, all private students loans are no longer legally collectible once they have expired under the statute of limitations in your state. In that case, while they may be listed as a debt on your bankruptcy filing, there isnt much of a need since the lender can no longer sue you or garnish your wages over those debts. In some states, the statute of limitations is as little as three years. In others it is 15 years.

But for some private student loan debt you dont have to wait that long. You dont even have to wait a week.

Where Did You Go to School?

If you owe private student loans for a school that was not accredited, your loans can probably be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy right away. Even some big-time lenders still make private student loans to such unprotected organizations. Its quite common to find vocational and trade school students with these types of unprotected loans. Flight schools for pilots seem to notoriously be unaccredited. Yet pilots errantly labor under hundreds of thousands of dollars of unmanageable student loans believing there is no hope for them. You can see some real case studies showing how easily these loans were discharged.

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In particular the issue that makes these private student loans so easily dischargeable in bankruptcy is the fact the school was not a eligible educational institution or that the loans were for a qualified higher education expense.

In order for a loan to be qualified as a private student loan:

(1) it must have been made under a government or nonprofit student loan program, or (2) it must be a qualified educational loan under section 221(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, for attending an eligible education institution as defined in section 221(d)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, and incurred for costs of attendance as defined in section 472 of the Higher Education Act.

As bankruptcy attorney Craig Andresen says, “For example, perhaps you were not an “eligible student” at the time the private student loan was made to you; or maybe the loan was not incurred to pay ‘qualified education expenses'; or perhaps the loan was not for attendance at an ‘eligible education institution’ because the school was not accredited under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. All these are requirements imposed by section 221(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. Failure of a private student loan to meet any of these criteria means that the loan is fully dischargeable, because it would not qualify under section 523(a)(8) of the bankruptcy law.”

But the characteristics of a private student loan get even more specific. Just because a school was accredited, they must also have offered Title IV federal loans or the private loans may not be protected from discharge in bankruptcy.

Some attorneys have also reported to me other types of entities have been financing services using private student loans. One facility on particular was an inpatient drug treatment facility. Clearly that does not seem to be a protected category for private student loans.

How You Used the Loan Matters

But wait, just because your school might have met all the requirements of a Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, that doesnt mean some or all of your private student loans are not eligible to be eliminate in bankruptcy. If your loans were used for things other than a qualified higher education expense the law does not protect those amounts. So if you used your private student loan money for things other than tuition, books, supplies and required equipment, that part of your student loans may be eliminated in bankruptcy today.

I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in this topic should read this paper by Mark Kantrowitz to learn more about the loans that can qualify. Private student loan bankruptcy discharge is one of those issues in the debt world that many just make the wrong assumptions about. It pays to learn more.

More on Managing Debt:

  • The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
  • Understanding Your Debt Collection Rights
  • Top 10 Debt Collection Rights

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Events and programs

Civitan Club of North Columbus, showing of the Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary Alive Inside, noon April 11 at Studio 35, 3055 Indianola Ave. The movie shows how the power of music gives hope to those affected with Alzheimers and their families. Tickets, $6.50, will be sold starting at 11 am Door prizes and a raffle will be included. Proceeds from ticket sales will support local charities and organizations such as the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, the Ohio Special Olympics, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio and others.

Storytellers of Central Ohio, storytelling and music program for families, 2 to 4 pm April 12 at the Ohio History Center, Ohio Village Church, Interstate 71 and 17th Avenue. Musician Hank Arbaugh will be featured, along with Adel Browne, Michelle Cornell, Melanie Pratt, Joyce Geary, Lovie-Afi Greene, Terri Lott, Frank McGarvey and Larry Staats. Tickets will be available at the door for a donation of $5. Parking is free. For more information go to socotales.org.

Deaf World Against Violence Everywhere, ShenaniGames event, 10 am to 2 pm April 19 at Wolfe Park in Bexley. Four-person teams will compete in feats of skill, strategy and silliness. Food trucks from Tortilla and Skyward Grille will be on hand. Cost is $30 per team member, $120 per team. This donation is tax deductible and will help raise awareness and provide financial support for Ohio victims of sexual violence. To register go to dwaveohio.org. For more information, call 614-678-5476.

Franklin County Commissioners and Goodwill Columbus, in partnership with the Columbus Clippers, WBNS-10TV, Sunny 95, and The Columbus Dispatch, e-waste collection, 9 am to noon April 25 at Huntington Park, 330 Huntington Park Lane. The public can donate unwanted computers and related equipment, small appliances such as microwaves and vacuums, electrical cords and Christmas lights, lithium ion batteries and ink and toner cartridges. Goodwill Columbus adheres to Responsible Recycling (R2) standards but does not accept liability for lost or confidential data or software. Donors are responsible for backing up any valuable information and erasing sensitive data from computer hard drives before dropping them off. Participants will receive a goody bag with items from event sponsors.

Columbus Historical Society, 2015 Columbus City Tour Series, starting at 9:30 am May 23, June 27, July 25, Aug. 22, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24 at the society gallery, 333 W. Broad St. and COSI. Participants will travel through downtown to the Ohio Statehouse; the Columbus Commons; the Short North Arts District; German Village; the Arena District; Olde Towne East; the Discovery District; and Franklin Park. Tours are two and a half hours and cost $30 per person, $27 for senior citizens, $24 for members of the Columbus Historical Society (unlimited ticket purchases for members). Registration and payment in advance are required. For reservations call 614-224-0822.

MoveMMORE 5K amp; 1 Mile Run/Walk, 8:30 am June 6 at Wolfe Park, 105 Park Drive, Columbus. Registration begins at 7:30 am Fees are $30 for adults and children 11 and up and $10 for children 10 and under. Chip timing is available for an additional $1.50. Food and live music will be included. For more information go to MMORE.org.

Good Shepherd Free Store, 10 am to 1 pm (doors close at 12:30 pm) on the third Saturday of each month at Church of the Good Shepherd, United Methodist, 6176 Sharon Woods Blvd. The store offers limited quantities of clothing and small household items at no cost. Donations and registrations are accepted from 10 to 11 am and 6:30 to 7:30 pm every Wednesday. For more information call 614-891-5043.

Legal Aid Society, Northland area legal advice clinic, 5:30 to 7 pm the first Wednesday of the month at the Haimerl Center, owned by the Lutheran Ascension Church, at 1421 Morse Road. Individuals and families with gross household income at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level can meet with a pro bono attorney, who will answer questions and provide referral options as appropriate. This clinic can serve US citizens and eligible non-citizens at no cost. Individuals can receive information on areas of law including landlord-tenant, consumer, bankruptcy, domestic relations, estate planning and criminal record sealing. For more information call LASC a 614-224-8374.


American Red Cross, blood donations, 9 am to 3 pm April 11 at Linden Eagles-Fraternal Order of Eagles 2252, 3800 Westerville Road. An additional drive is set for 9 am to 1 pm April 12 at St. Elizabeth Church, 6077 Sharon Woods Blvd. For appointments, call 1-800-733-2767.


Lifetree Cafe, 6:30 pm Thursdays at Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road. Weekly videos, stories and discussions that help build relationships. Topics change weekly and focus on popular life issues. April topics include: April 9, Surviving the Death of a Loved One: Finding Peace in Your Time of Loss; April 16, How Do I Know What God Wants Me to Do?; April 23, Inside the Gun Debate: To Hunt? To Defend? To Assault?; and April 30, Isolated and Alone: Imprisoned in Iran. Free; no registration required. Snacks and beverages are available.

Columbus Area Boardgaming Society, on the first and third Fridays and second and fourth Saturdays of each month at 670 Lakeview Plaza Blvd., Suite E, Worthington. Participants can select play board games from the more than 1,000 options in the CABS library. The first visit is free. For a meeting schedule go to cabsgamers.org.

Urban Beekeepers of Central Ohio, 7 to 8:30 pm the second Thursday of every month at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 1450 E. Dublin-Granville Road, Columbus. Membership for the calendar year is $10. Participants will learn from expert speakers, view demonstrations and join in activities. For more information email ubco2014@yahoo.com.

Columbus Folk Dancers, recreational international folk dancing, 7:30 to 10 pm Wednesdays at Summit on 16th United Methodist Church. First-time guests can participate at no cost. For directions go to recfolkdancecolumbus.org/CFD. For additional information contact Ann at 614-267-8183.

Maize Manor Civic Association and Blockwatch, 6:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at the Maize Manor United Methodist Church, 3901 Maize Road. For more information call Jennifer Adair at 614-929-5088.

Beaumont Civic Association and Blockwatch, 7 pm the third Wednesday of the month in the meeting room at the Northern Lights branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 4093 Cleveland Ave. For information, call Donna at 614-261-6521.

Clinton Estates Civic Association and Blockwatch, 7 pm the fourth Wednesday of the month at Trinity United Church of Christ, 1180 Shanley Drive. Call Emmanuel Remy at 614-453-5007.

Northland Community Council Development Committee, 6:30 pm the last Wednesday of the month at the Franklin County Job and Family Services office building, 1721 Northland Park Ave. Public hearings on local development, rezoning and related topics. Call 614-325-8217.

Salem Civic Association, 7 pm the fourth Tuesday of the month, except for the December meeting which is the third Tuesday, at Salem Baptist Church, 5862 Sinclair Road.

Sea Scout Ship 468, 6:45 pm the second Thursday of every month at Maize Manor United Methodist Church, 3901 Maize Road. For more information call Nancy Peto at the Simon Kenton Council Scout office, 614-306-9768.

Shipwrights of Central Ohio, a group for ship modelers, 9 am to noon on the third Saturday of each month, Westerville Public Library, 126 S. State St.

American Legion Post 171, 7:30 pm and Auxiliary, 7 pm the first Wednesday of the month at the post, 393 E. College Ave. Guests are invited. Call Mike Etling at 614-891-9388 or Kim Mann (Auxiliary) at 614-266-2695.

Northland Community Council, 7 pm the first Tuesday of the month at Friendship Village of Columbus, 5800 Forest Hills Blvd. Call 614-325-8217.

Forest Park Civic Association, 7 pm the second Tuesday of each month, locations and topics vary. Call 614-325-8217.Franklin 524 Toastmasters Club, 7 am every Thursday at the Vineyard Community Center, 6000 Cooper Road.

Karmel Woodward Park Civic Association, 6:45 pm the second Tuesday of the month at Valley Forge Elementary School, 1321 Urban Drive. For more information contact William Logan at 614-846-1089 or KWPcivic@gmail.com.

Sharon Woods Civic Association, 7 pm the first Thursday of the month at Church of the Good Shepherd, 6176 Sharon Woods Blvd. Call John Kirkpatrick at 614-890-5417.

Northland Kiwanis Club, 6:15 pm the second and the fourth Mondays of the month at Friendship Village of Columbus, 5800 Forest Hills Blvd. Call 614-479-3256.

Central Ohioans for Peace, 7 pm the second and fourth Mondays of the month at the Columbus Mennonite Church, 35 Oakland Park Ave. Call 614-436-3531.

Support groups

Families In Touch, a support group for families and friends of adults affected by mental illness, co-sponsored by Mental Health America of Franklin County and Concord Counseling, 10 am to noon the second and fourth Thursdays at Concord Counseling, 700 Brooksedge Blvd., Westerville. Meeting subject to change. Call Marilyn at 614-882-9338, ext. 227.

GOALS (Giving Those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Another Lifestyle) Support Group, 6:30 to 8:30 pm on the second and fourth Wednesdays of April in Room 317 at Worthington United Methodist Church, 600 High St. This group is co-sponsored by Mental Health America of Franklin County and Anxiety and Behavioral Health Services. Meetings are subject to change. Call Megan at 614-221-1441 to confirm.

Central Ohio Arthritis amp; Fibromyalgia Support Group, 1 to 2:30 pm the third Tuesday of each month in the Wesley Glen Guild Center, 5155 N. High St., Columbus. All are welcome to attend. Call 614-396-4938 for more information.

Depression Support Group, co-sponsored by Mental Health America of Franklin County and Syntero, 5:30 to 7 pm the second Monday of the month at Syntero-Dublin Counseling Center, 299 Cramer Creek Court, Dublin. Call Amanda to confirm at 614-889-5722, ext. 222, or visit mhafc.org. An additional group sponsored by Mental Health America of Franklin County meets 7 to 8:30 pm, the first and third Mondays of the month at the Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 4131 N. High St. Call Megan to confirm at 614-221-1441.

Schizophrenics Anonymous, sponsored by Mental Health America of Franklin County and Concord Counseling, 5 to 6 pm Wednesdays at Concord Counseling, 700 Brooksedge Blvd. Call Marilyn at 614-882-9338, ext. 227, to confirm. Meetings subject to change.

Emotions Anonymous, a 12-step program for emotional wellness, meets from 4 to 5 pm Saturdays and 7:30 to 8:30 pm Sundays at North Community Lutheran Church, 114 Morse Road; and from 7 to 8 pm Tuesdays in Room 149C at Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road. Call 614-470-0397.

Compassionate Friends, Providing Grief Support after the Death of a Child, 7 pm on the second Tuesday of each month at Ascension Lutheran Church, 1479 Morse Road, Columbus. For more information call 614-882-8986.

Parkinsons Support Group, 1:30 pm the second Thursday of each month in the third-floor multi-purpose room at the Forum at Knightsbridge, 4625 Knightsbridge Blvd. Call Dodie Wood at 614-481-8888.

Pet Loss Support Group, for those mourning the loss of a beloved animal companion, 7 to 8:30 pm the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at Villa Angela Care Center, 5700 Karl Road. Call Dorothy Hall at 614-895-3416.

Cocaine Anonymous, for information on meetings call 614-251-1122.

Mended Hearts of Central Ohio, a support group for heart patients, caregivers and heart-care professionals, the second Wednesday of every month at the Ross Auditorium at OSU Medical Center, 452 W. 10th Ave. Call Jeff Davidson at 614-580-1561.

Mental Health Through Will-Training, sponsored by Recovery International, 7 to 8:30 pm Thursdays at Worthington Presbyterian Church, 773 N. High St. Individuals struggling with stress, anxiety, panic, fatigue, depression or fear are welcome. Freewill offerings accepted. For more information contact Paul at 614-895-6760 or info@LowSelfHelpSystems.org.

Overeaters Anonymous, 9:30 am Saturdays at North Community Lutheran Church, 114 Morse Road. Call Diane at 614-898-5447.

Depression Bipolar Support Alliance of Northwest Columbus, 7 to 9 pm the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road. Call 614-547-9788. Meadow Park Church of God is not affiliated with the DBSA.

Alzheimers Caregiver Support Group, sponsored by the Alzheimers Association, Central Ohio Chapter, 12:30 pm on the second Tuesday of the month at the Gillie Senior Recreation Center, 2100 Morse Road. Open to anyone affected by Alzheimers disease. Call Marty Cameron at 614-457-6003 before attending the first time to verify the meeting time.

Bipolar Anonymous, 7 pm Thursdays, at Maple Grove United Methodist Church, 7 W. Henderson Road. Call 614-895-1002.

Breast Cancer Support Group, led by a psychologist, social workers and registered nurses. The groups are ongoing; join any time. Call Mount Carmel St. Anns at 614-898-8517.

Families Anonymous, for parents of those with substance abuse or behavioral problems, 7:30 pm Thursdays at Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 4131 N. High St. Call 614-885-5199 or 614-875-8695.


No-interest loan scheme for Malvern Hills moves a step closer

The proposed no-interest loan scheme will provide interest free loans to a maximum value of £400 to people on low income in receipt of Working Tax Credit and other benefits.

Loans will be available for essential purchases such as white goods, or the means to access employment or education such as travel passes, school uniforms and equipment.

The scheme does not provide cash loans but works with local suppliers of goods and services to provide goods directly to lenders at competitive prices thus supporting the local economy as well as local people.

South Worcestershire CAB will provide office support and Malvern Hills District Council and Fortis Living have each kindly agreed grant funding to get the scheme off the ground.

If you would like to help with the fund raising campaign or to donate please contact cathyjacksonread@gmail.com or on 07814 913705. Whilst donors won’t get their money back, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that their donation will be continually recycled, helping dozens of people on low incomes to access essential goods now and in the future.

Argument analysis: Justices weigh practicalities of appellate review of …

The last case of the March argument session, Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, finished the Court’s foray into consumer bankruptcy. Unlike the narrow and low-stakes issue discussed the first hour of the day (in Harris v. Viegelahn), this case involves a question of great importance in consumer and commercial bankruptcies alike: can a debtor appeal a bankruptcy court’s decision to reject the debtor’s proposed plan? As in the earlier argument, the Justices found themselves largely unmoored by any statutory text and thus spent most of the argument debating the wisdom of permitting such appeals.

Accordingly, most of the argument involved considering whether debtors would have an adequate opportunity to seek appellate review if the plan denial itself is not treated as an appealable order. The answer turns on the Justices’ assessment of the three mechanisms for appeal that would remain if the denial itself cannot be appealed. The first possibility is the procedure the statute plainly authorizes: an interlocutory appeal, which is available whenever the debtor can convince the lower courts that the question is important enough to warrant interlocutory review. The difficulty with that approach is that the Justices seem convinced (and properly so) that the lower courts have rarely authorized such appeals.

Justice Kagan’s comments are illustrative of the quandary in which the Justices found themselves:

I mean, we’re trying to figure out what’s the best alternative of these systems in a world in which we’re not particularly limited by text. So it’s quite important how the other alternatives work. And if the interlocutory appeal alternative really isn’t working because courts aren’t using it for these kinds of purposes, then that’s an important factor to know about, isn’t it?

Justice Stephen Breyer seemed to have considerable sympathy for that approach, although he too seemed to take for granted the limited use of the provisions courts have permitted to date: “It would then seem important to put in the opinion there is a problem here about there being insufficient appeals to generate law, but there is a mechanism, namely, the interlocutory mechanism, which perhaps has been used too sparingly.” Ever the skeptic, Justice Antonin Scalia wryly downplayed the effectiveness of such an approach, commenting: “You know, sometimes they even ignore our holdings. Do you think they’re not going to ignore this piece of advice?”

One of the biggest problems that Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, arguing on the bank’s behalf, faced is that the two opportunities available once you get beyond interlocutory appeal are procedurally eccentric (at best). One possibility is that the debtor should refuse to amend the rejected plan, await dismissal of the bankruptcy case; all agree that the debtor could appeal from such a dismissal. The central problem with that approach, as James Feldman (arguing for the debtor Bullard) emphasized in a lengthy colloquy with Justice Breyer, is that the debtor loses the automatic stay when the case is dismissed.

Unimpressed, Justice Breyer suggested that the debtor should seek a stay from the bankruptcy court. When Feldman argued that it is not practical for the debtor to hope to get such a stay, Justice Breyer remarked: “What we do is we do there the same as any other case. … And if the bankruptcy judge doesn’t do it, you ask the appellate panel to do it. That comes every day in the week, it comes up in criminal cases, civil cases all the time.”

Justice Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, in contrast, seemed persuaded by Feldman’s point. Justice Kagan, for example, summarized her understanding of Feldman’s point sympathetically: “Does that mean that they would have to say that there’s a likelihood that their own ruling is wrong. Because if Justice Breyer were right, that that’s a possibility, you would think that would be a very good way to solve this problem. But you’re just saying that the automatic stays are going to disappear on most of these debtors?” More firmly, Justice Sotomayor responded to Hallward-Driemeier’s suggestion of dismissal as a solution that he should “[a]ssume we don’t think that’s very effective.”

The third alternative available to debtors is to respond to a denial of the preferred plan by proposing a plan acceptable to the district court and then taking an appeal from the acceptance of their plan. None of the Justices seemed to think that sensible. Justice Kagan, for example, characterized that approach as “just making people run through hoops to agree to plans that nobody is willing to live under.”

As the argument wound down, the Justices seemed to be coming around to the debtor’s side, largely because of the success of three practical arguments. The first is the reality that creditors plainly can appeal to challenge confirmation; it seems unfair that the debtor should not have a parallel right to challenge rejection. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it: “It’s a given, isn’t it, [that] the confirmation of a plan can be appealed. And I thought your argument was that this is just the flip side. You can confirm or you can deny. Creditors can appeal if it’s confirmed.” Both Feldman and Assistant to the Solicitor General Zachary Tripp (arguing for the federal government) returned to that point repeatedly, with apparent success.

The second is the empirical reality that appeals of this sort in fact seem to be rare, even in the courts in which they are permitted. While Feldman was arguing, both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Breyer seemed unpersuaded by his argument that impecunious debtors would be likely to appeal plan denials only in important cases. Later in the argument, however, Justice Kagan took the view that the history in the circuits that have permitted such appeals for many years is telling: “Well 2005, that’s ten years [these appeals have been available]. And these cases are coming up all of the time, and it seems as though you have a good natural experiment that goes on here. And it hasn’t really led to the kinds of bad consequences that we’re all surmising about.”

The final point ended up consuming a good bit of Hallward-Driemeier’s time: what to make of the decision of the major institutional actors that appeared in the case – the United States and the Bank of America – to file on the debtor’s side, supporting the right to appeal. So, for example, when Hallward-Driemeier argued that a right to appeal would give debtors unfair leverage in plan negotiations, Justice Anthony Kennedy interjected: “When you argue, as you’ve just argued, that this would give the debtors too much unfair leverage, how does that account for the fact that some of the very major creditors in the country are on the Petitioner’s side? I mean, they must not think there’s too much leverage.”

Justices Kagan and Scalia also pressed the point vigorously. Justice Kagan, for example, commented to Hallward-Driemeier: “One of the things that confuses me about this case, quite honestly, is why you don’t have more people on your side. In other words, where are the creditors, and where are the amicus briefs from the creditors who think your position is important to prevent all of these appeals that you say are going to ruin the system?”

The colloquy doubtless brought a smile to the face of Craig Goldblatt, one of the counsel for Bank of America on the brief in question, sitting in the courtroom after his argument earlier in the day. As the summary above should illustrate, however, it is not at all clear that the notice the Justices took of the bank’s position presages acceptance of that position. What the argument suggests to me is a consensus on two points: that there should be some practical mechanism for review; and that there is no sympathy for the Rube-Goldberg alternatives of feigned dismissal and approval of an unwanted plan. If the Court can’t coalesce around a bright-line permission of appeals from plan rejection, it is not at all unlikely that the Court might accept Justice Breyer’s suggestion that the lower courts be urged to make interlocutory review more readily available.

New face of the Indian Afghan

I felt like I was in hell. I could not speak properly and remembered my mothers admonition that I shouldnt go to my village in Afghanistan, recalls Zaffar Khan, 29, of the time he was caught and frisked by the Taliban on a secluded highway on his way to Paktika, his village, 140 km from Kabul.

Son of a quintessential Kabuliwala, an Afghan engaged in the business of lending money in Kolkata, Zaffar, then just 24, was in his country to promote the sport of rugby on the invitation of the Afghanistan government. As a student in Kolkata, he had learnt the game at Brigade Parade Ground with, among others, Paul Walsh, a former diplomat with the British High Commission.

Why are you carrying an Indian passport? Why are you talking in an Indian accent, the boyish Taliban gunmen harangued a fearful Zaffar. Then inexplicably, the militants let him go. We are very sorry that we stopped you. Have a nice day, they said.

Zaffar promised never to return to Afghanistan, although he found Kabul a more vibrant city than Kolkata. The city life in Kabul was good, in fact it was better than in Kolkata, he says. Not many know about the liberal side of Kabul. In contrast, Paktika was a serene, hilly landscape by daytime and a war zone after dark, with gunshots and explosions all around, where a midnight knock by gun-wielding men enquiring about strangers in the house was a dreaded reality.

Zaffars parents came to India in 1979 soon after the Soviet invasion of their country, and settled in Bokaro in Jharkhand. It was a time when Afghan moneylenders offered a one-stop shop for the small credit needs of people in India, and Zaffars father was, naturally enough, soon involved in the business of giving cash loans. Zaffar, born in 1985, came to Kolkata in 2004 to study commerce at the South City College.

Zaffar, the rugby player, might be the new face of the Indian Afghan, but in the bylanes of Kolkata, these Pathan suit-clad Afghans are still known as the Kabuliwalas. These men, whose life away from their country was so poignantly sketched by Rabindranath Tagore in his 1892 short story, Kabuliwala, once trudged across Aghanistan, Pakistan and India, selling products like spices, dry fruit and semi-precious gems. The money they earned was ploughed into the loans business and brought them handsome incomes. Today, the wares have been replaced by saris from Varanasi and turbans from Raipur.

For nearly 85 years now, Afghan moneylenders have been tenants of the ground floor of House No 72 on Taltala, a lane off the busy shopping area of New Market. Over the years, the price of commercial property in the area has increased to among the highest in Kolkata. It isnt surprising, therefore, that the Afghan occupants are entangled in court cases with their landlords.

Inside, in a spacious hall with minimal amenities except for a dusty Afghani carpet and a few bed rolls, Akbar Khan, a money lender in his mid-50s, sips a cup of kahwa as he watches Afghanistan play in the cricket World Cup in Australia. Khan has been living at Taltala with six other Kabuliwalas for almost 15 years. Khan doesnt remember when his forefathers left their native country. We have relatives in Afghanistan, but we cant go back. It is not easy, says Khan.

Before coming to Taltala, Khan worked as a moneylender in Khidirpur, a dock area in central-west Kolkata. The employees of the dockyard had been his dedicated customers. Government employees used to be our main clients, says Khan. I remember that there were close to 3,000 workers at one of the factories. Today, there are hardly 30-35. At the Khidirpur docks, there were 80,000 people.

Galaxy Gaming Expands Board of Directors With Seasoned Financial Executive

LAS VEGAS, March 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Galaxy Gaming (OTC:GLXZ) announced today that Bryan W. Waters has agreed to join the Companys Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2015. Mr. Waters is a seasoned financial executive with over 25 years working in the banking and financial industry. Mr. Waters brings to Galaxys Board significant experience in finance, commercial banking, capital raising, financial turnaround, strategic and tactical planning.

A graduate of University of California, Los Angeles, Mr. Waters started his career with Wells Fargo Bank in 1988 where he held numerous positions, including President of the Southern Nevada region. In 2001, Mr. Waters became Chief Financial Officer of Camco, Inc. (dba SuperPawn) a specialty finance lender with both brick-and-mortar and internet retailing operations with gross revenues in excess of $70 million. Shortly after his appointment, Mr. Waters also absorbed the roles of President and Chief Operating Officer until the successful sale of the company to Cash America International, Inc. a NYSE listed company.

Mr. Waters joined Pacific National Bank in 2006 as President and Chief Executive Officer, responsible for a privately held $2.3 billion 17 branch bank, which is now part of US Bank. In 2010, Mr. Waters became Chief Executive Officer of B-Line, LLC, the largest purchaser and servicer of unsecured consumer bankruptcy debt in the country. At the time of its successful sale in 2011, B-Line owned and serviced in excess of $300 million in assets.

In 2012, Mr. Waters founded Magnolia Lane Partners, LLC, which is comprised of former executives of B-Line which is an advisory and asset management firm focused primarily in the accounts receivable management industry with a specific focus on purchasing consumer receivables in bankruptcy. Also in 2012, Mr. Waters joined the Board of CBV Collection Services, LTD, a private equity and management owned company which is one of the largest independent outsourcing, collection services and debt buying organization in Canada. In September of 2013, Mr. Waters assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of CBV and continues to serve in that role presently.

I am excited and honored to be joining the Galaxy Board. I look forward to contributing alongside the talented senior management and board teams and helping to leverage Galaxys leading position in the table gaming market, said Mr. Waters.

Robert B. Saucier, Galaxys CEO and Chairman of the Board, commented on Mr. Waters appointment. We have previously expressed that our highest priority is to attract and be governed by the best and the brightest in our industry. Not only does Bryan fulfill our desire to add significant financial experience to our Board, but his all-around strategic, tactical and operational knowledge and experiences makes him the perfect fit for our company during this growth phase. I share in the enthusiasm with our other Board members and shareholders in welcoming Bryan to Galaxy Gaming, concluded Mr. Saucier.

About Galaxy Gaming

Headquartered in Las Vegas, Galaxy Gaming (galaxygaming.com) develops, manufactures and distributes innovative proprietary table games, state-of-the-art electronic wagering platforms and enhanced bonusing systems to land-based, riverboat, cruise ships and online casinos worldwide. Through its iGaming partner, Games Marketing, Ltd., Galaxy Gaming licenses its proprietary table games to the online gaming industry. The Company is also expanding its global presence through its partnership with WPT Enterprises, Inc., owner of the World Poker Tour. Galaxy Gaming is also the exclusive provider of SpectrumVision, a proprietary technology used to detect invisible markings on playing cards. Galaxys games can be played online at FeelTheRush.com. Connect with Galaxy on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

CONTACT: Gary A. Vecchiarelli
(702) 939-3254

Source: Galaxy Gaming, Inc.

Manat Devaluation Slams Azeri Banks

When Azerbaijan’s Central Bank announced that the national currency would be slashed by one third of its value this past February, economists prepared for the worst. Now the country’s banks are absorbing the hit.

In response, the Chairman of the Board of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan Elman Rustamov invited local banks to make concessions to those customers who took loans in dollars. He suggested the banks to extend the terms of the loans and lower the interest rates. Although Rustamov’s call went out a week ago, so far only one bank agreed to this step, as many are worried about losing profits. However, it could be worse: economists talk about a looming financial crisis.

On March 17, during a parliamentary discussion Rustamov additionally recommended the country’s commercial banks to restructure their foreign exchange reserves. In his speech he also commented on the Manat’s value, saying that he didn’t expected great changes in the exchange rate until the end of this year. Rustamov mentioned that the February devaluation of the manat served the fundamental interests of the country’s economy.

Reaction from the banks

A week after this statement only Nikoil Bank said they would follow the central bank’s recommendations. At a press conference on March 18 bank chairman Vasiliy Khamaza reported the institution went to meet the borrowers and offered to extend payments on loans without additional fees for all loans issued in US dollars, if customers have payment difficulties. The bank also allows to convert customers’ deposits to foreign currency without loss of accrued interest.

At the same time, D?mirBank and International Bank of Azerbaijan increased interest rates on deposits in manats. Also the Chairman of Bank VTB (Azerbaijan) Yuri Yakovlev, said that the bank was unable to make such concessions.

With regard to the payment of loans in dollars, there are no legal grounds to accept payments for the loan at the old rate. Cash loans in dollars were committed at the current rate at the time of payment. Also this item is reflected in the agreements concluded between the bank and the borrower. The public should understand that the banks are in the same difficult situation, he said.

Indeed, some banks have faced difficulties. According to the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, at the beginning of this month four banks are still not complied with the requirement regarding minimum capital reserves. In addition all of the country’s banks now have to provide the Central Bank with daily compliance reports. It is also known that the devaluation of the manat caused huge financial loss to the PASHA Bank (one of the largest banks in the country) for more than 2 million manats.

Some economists are saying that if the banks take the necessary measures to help their depositors, Azerbaijan will be able to avoid another financial crisis.

Banks can not refuse their income on the basis of some humanistic views”, says economist Mohammed Talibli. “But commercial banks should determine for themselves a revenue limit that would not lead to negative consequences. The customers, repaing the loan, should do it without serious difficulties, he added.

According to the economist, the banks have to distinguish between two types of its policies. First, due to high interest rates to earn income, but without increasing the percentage of problem loans. Second, through establishing more favorable interest terms of loans and deposits to gather more customers.

Experience shows that during the crisis, banks have largely put their reputation into question,” says the economist, “With the chaos on the market, the customers are disappointed that the banks are not inclined to the consensus.

Talibi says the banks have to take similar steps during the crisis to avoid further problems and to help customers.

Previously I had a monthly payment 135 manats, now it became about 180, says accountant Khalida, But the bank itself called me with a proposal to change the term of the loan. But still I did not agree, I think still I can manage this amount. but of course it is unpleasant.

According to the Central Bank of the total amount of loans that might cause problems in Azerbaijan now exceeds more than 1 billion manats.

Getting A Mortgage After Bankruptcy And Foreclosure

If it’s the American Dream to own a home, it’s the American Nightmare to file for bankruptcy. In the late Aughties (that’s the 2000s) the US housing market collapsed and the economy began its freefall; by the time the economy struck bottom in March 2009 more than 1.2 million parties had filed for bankruptcy in the previous 12 months. By March 2010 that figure had shot up to 1.5 million. Blame job loss – unemployment peaked at 10% in October 2009 – as well as divorce and medical expenses. From 2008 through 2013 total foreclosures reached 17.9 million.

But the rate has been getting lower all the time: In the 12 months ended December 31, 2013, the number of bankruptcies had dropped to 1 million, and by December 2014 it had fallen to 910,000. Meanwhile, last month (February 2015) unemployment fell to 5.5 percent, the lowest since May 2008, while in December 2014 new-home sales reached a six-year high. Right about now sounds like the time to buy into the Dream. But what about doing it after living the Nightmare?

Step by Step to Rebuilding Your Credit

Well, you’re going to have to show some discipline. And some pay stubs. And dance a few more steps.

a.) Find out your credit score. (Yes, that’s why you’re seeing all those TV ads promising free credit scores.) By law, the traditional three agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, are required to provide a free score once a year. Once you see them, do you see any mistakes? If so, challenge them on the company’s website. Why is it so important that they get it right? According to the 2005 Experian National Score Index study, Americans who have filed for bankruptcy have an average credit score of 604, compared with an average of 677 for non-bankruptcy types. The higher your credit score, the less interest you’ll have on that mortgage payment: 1.5 to 2 percentage points less. (Also, see What Do Credit Score Ranges Mean?)

b.) Stay at your job: That shows a potential lender that you’re trustworthy.

c.) Rebuild your credit: Obtain two or three secured credit cards, charge only small amounts, and keep them paid off. Take out a small loan, either a personal, car or student loan, and pay it off quickly. Never make a late payment. Always make an early payment. Always pay your rent on time. Never bounce a check, and consistently stash cash in your savings account. (Also, see The Best Credit Cards After Bankruptcy.)