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What is Bankruptcy Court?

Bankruptcy court is a special judicial proceeding which determines how a debtor can settle accounts and move on. Bankruptcy courts are always federal, and not state, courts. They were established in the Constitution and given structure by the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. They give debtors a means of moving beyond debts that cannot be fully repaid. There are several kinds of bankruptcy filings (found here — ‘chapter 7-15’, some for individuals, some for businesses, some involving foreign entities or persons operating in the US. Some are for absolution and the dissolution of a business entity, and other filings are requests for partial debt forgiveness and reorganization of the entity. Continue reading...

What is Bankruptcy?

When a person or company is no longer able to pay the amount of debt they owe, they can file bankruptcy and be given options for relief. There are different types of bankruptcy filings available (found here — debt would have to have accumulated to a point where there is no mathematically feasible way to repay it all. There may be a way to repay some of it, however. It may mean that a business is able to continue to keep its doors open, with payment plans to service some of the outstanding debt, but this is likely after some assets have been liquidated to settle some of the creditors' claims. Continue reading...

Keywords: bankruptcy, debt, creditors,

What Happens When a Company Goes Bankrupt?

There is a hierarchy of which creditors and investors will be serviced first in the event that a company goes bankrupt. When a company goes bankrupt, it is unable to pay back the money that it borrowed. The higher the bond's rating, the less likely that the issuer will go bankrupt. To learn more about bond ratings, see “What are Bond Ratings?” The possibility of bankruptcy is the risk associated with investing in bonds - you can never know for sure if you will get your money back. Typically, bonds with higher coupons are riskier investments (again, the recurring theme of higher returns = higher risks!). For example, if you see a bond with a 30% coupon, there is (obviously) a greatly increased chance that the company will not be able to pay back your loan. Continue reading...

What are Some of the Biggest Bankruptcies in Recent History?

Before Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns, probably the most well-known and publicized bankruptcy was the infamous Enron scandal. To summarize, Enron executives, fully aware that the company was insolvent, started to sell their stock, while convincing the general public that the stock would continue to rise and the company was prospering (despite actual horrendous losses). As the stock dropped lower and lower, the executives continued to lie to the public, and most people fell into the trap, convinced that the low stock prices were a great opportunity (the stock was going to rebound any day – or so they thought). Continue reading...

What are Bond Ratings?

The possibility of a company or municipal government defaulting on their bond obligations, usually by going bankrupt, is a real one. For this reason, all bonds are rated according to the financial stability of the issuer. A look at the history of corporate and municipal debt will illuminate the fact that the possibility of the issuer being unable to pay its obligations to bondholders is a very real one. There is an established system of bond ratings that gives a rough estimate of the bond's reliability. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted Book Value?

Adjusted Book Value takes true fair market value of all assets and liabilities into account. Adjusted Book Value tends to be used when a company has been devalued to the point of facing possible bankruptcy and liquidation. Book value in general does not account for intangible assets, such as intellectual property, so it is more useful in assessing the risk of loss in a foundering company than the earnings potential of a profitable company. Technically the adjustments to book value will raise or lower the value of assets and liabilities according to current fair market value. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 10?

Chapter 10 is a bankruptcy filing available to smaller corporations where they agree to have their management replaced to oversee a restructuring, and they also agree to have their debts repaid within three years. If a company does not have more than $2.5 million in debt, they may be able to file Chapter 10 bankruptcy. The company and its attorney will put together a plan for reorganization and explain how the plan will ensure that the company meet its obligations in the future. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 13?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is one of the most often used. It is similar to a Chapter 7, but it does not have income limits. It involves liquidating the assets of the debtor and making payment arrangements over a longer period of time than Chapter 7. Chapter 13 allows a debtor to propose a schedule for repaying debts that seems reasonable to the bankruptcy judge. It is for individuals who can prove steady income. Often Chapter 7 is filed by people who are impoverished, while Chapter 13 is the middle-to-upper class equivalent. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 9?

Chapter 9 is a form of bankruptcy filing that is reserved for municipalities which have defaulted on their debt obligations. This could include a school district or other entities which have a municipal affiliation and the ability to generate revenue from local taxes. They cannot be made to liquidate anything. In fact, it forces the lender to accept a refinancing of the debt obligation. Because municipalities fall under state jurisdiction, the federal government, which governs bankruptcy court, does not have the ability to force liquidation of a municipal entity’s assets. Instead, this provision of bankruptcy law governs refinancing arrangements to facilitate the repayment of debts owed. Continue reading...

What is Abandonment Value?

The Abandonment Value is the salvage value left if a capital project is stopped short at an unknown time. Authors Robichek and Van Horne (1967) offered a very concise argument for the importance of including an Abandonment Value in the calculations leading to a company decision to undertake a long-term capital project. The calculation is useful for risk assessment, and tries to find the value at which project assets could be liquidated if the project could not be continued for some reason. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 11?

Chapter 11 is a type of bankruptcy filing a company can make to give itself time to reorganize and hopefully continue business. There are different types of bankruptcy filings a person or business can make, depending on how overwhelming their debt load is. Chapter 11 is a kind of bankruptcy filing that allows the corporate leadership to stay in control of a company while trading freezes on their stock and the company and its debts are reorganized. This is called “debtor in possession.” Continue reading...

What is Chapter 15?

Chapter 15 bankruptcy is a newer type of bankruptcy filing that has only been around since 2005. It allows foreign companies access to the US bankruptcy court system in certain circumstances. This is part of the US’s compliance with international trade laws. Part of the aim of bankruptcy law is to preserve employment and protect investment. In an increasingly globalized economy it is understandable that the US could offer hearings to corporations which straddle national borders but are not based in the US. Continue reading...

What is an Income Bond?

Income bonds are issued by companies and they will only pay a coupon or interest rate if the company generates adequate earnings to do so. Non-payment of a coupon or interest rate does not necessarily mean that the company is in default. The principal amount plus some interest is due to the bondholder at maturity. Income bonds are sometimes issued by companies who are experiencing hard times and cannot guarantee a coupon payment to bondholders. Continue reading...

When Will Social Security Go Bankrupt?

Most estimates project that the Social Security Trust Funds will be depleted by 2037. The system could still function at 70% of their full obligations by transferring cash flow directly from social security taxes to the retired beneficiaries, which most people don’t realize when they spread the news that the system is tanking. Adjustments to the system and interest rates could change how this plays out and keep it operating closer to full capacity. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 7?

Chapter 7 is a type of bankruptcy filing that allows an individual to liquidate enough assets to repay their debts and to then be free and clear of debt obligations. This can help get a credit rating back on track sooner than another type of filing such as Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is for people with incomes below their state’s median income. By liquidating enough assets to pay off creditors, a debtor can use Chapter 7 to take care of all debts at once, or to have some of the debts forgiven if the debtor does not have adequate assets for liquidation. Continue reading...

What is Pari-Passu?

“Pari-passu” is a Latin phrase meaning “equal footing,” typically in reference to treatment of creditors or beneficiaries when assets are distributed. Some examples of pari-passu in practice would be bankruptcy proceedings when credits are given ‘equal access’ to assets of the company, or in a probate hearing when assets are divided equally amongst beneficiaries. Continue reading...

What is Credit Counseling?

Credit counselors can negotiate debt management strategies with lenders on behalf of individuals with debt problems, as well as providing behavioral financial habit construction counseling. Debtors seek out credit counselors to find out what their options are to get out of debt and to get some coaching during the process. Credit counselors can be certified through several accredited institutions who are overseen by the Department of Justice in the United States, and they may be part of a non-profit organization, lending institution, or independent financial practice. Continue reading...

A/A2 — credit rating

A — S&P / Fitch A2 — Moody’s Such ratings are given to bond issues and insurance companies, primarily, and this particular one is in the Upper Medium band of the Investment Grade ratings. Investment grade bonds are considered to have a very low possibility of default. The ratings go up to AAA/Aaa and all the way down to DDD/D, with Investment Grade bonds being in the range of AAA/Aaa to BBB-/Baa3. Continue reading...

What Health Insurance Do I Need if I Don't Have a Job?

Unemployed people are still required to have health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you will likely qualify for a federal subsidy to help you pay for it. Younger people can buy a catastrophic policy, which offers minimal coverage but can still help prevent eroding all of your savings in the event of a major accident. How Much Will Individual Health Coverage Cost? What is Medicare Part D? Continue reading...

What is a Junior Security?

Junior Securities come last in the pecking order if a company gets liquidated; common stock shares are the most prevalent example. Junior securities are securities such as common stock which would be the last in order to receive any payout if the company were to go bankrupt. Examples of securities which are senior are Preferred Stock and Bonds; senior securities receive service first in the event of company insolvency. Continue reading...