Kozeny & McCubbin Merges with Bonial & Associates, P.C. (BPC)

Bonial & Associates, P.C. (BPC) welcomes Kozeny & McCubbin and expands their legal services to mortgage loan servicers, automotive finance companies and consumer lending clients in six states.  States include Texas, California, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  The combined firms will operate under the name Bonial & Associates, P.C. (BPC).

The move adds all 10 attorneys and 40 staff members from Kozeny & McCubbin to BPC. The new law firm will have 27 attorneys and 92 support staff, positioning it to serve our clients with even greater efficiencies and performance.  Combined the law firm now represents over half of the top twenty mortgage servicers and consumer finance companies with leading services related to handling of foreclosure, bankruptcy, litigation, eviction and other related legal services.

“We are excited to join the Bonial family.   We are a stronger team together bringing industry leading performance and greater strategic value to our clients.” stated Wes Kozeny.  Prior to the merger, Wes Kozeny practiced in various areas, including banking, finance and mortgage lending; bankruptcy; creditors' rights; real estate matters including residential and commercial leasing and sale transactions, title litigation, foreclosures, evictions, condemnation and mechanic's liens. Mr. Kozeny is licensed to practice in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Hilary Bonial, Director of BPC stated, “We are excited to have Wes and team join our family.  Together, we can generate even greater benefits with the expanded state footprint.  We share the passion and goal of providing excellent service for our clients!”  Ms. Bonial is licensed to practice in Texas and Louisiana, and is admitted to numerous Federal Courts.

Bonial & Associates, P.C. represents creditors in foreclosure, bankruptcy and related litigation matters. We emphasize quality, compliance and risk management.
The firm provides national bankruptcy representation for all 50 states in association with a network of over 150 other law firms who perform services as local counsel. Bonial & Associates, P.C. also provides direct legal representation on a state-wide basis throughout Texas, California, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.   Bonial & Associates, P.C. delivers quality legal services with an emphasis on demonstrable subject matter expertise, domain knowledge and the highest levels of compliance and professional responsibility.

Hospital Bankruptcies Leave Sick and Injured Nowhere to Go - ABI

A quiet crisis is unfolding for U.S. hospitals, with bankruptcies and closures threatening to leave some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens without care, Bloomberg reported. As a gauge of distress in the health care sector has soared, at least 30 hospitals entered bankruptcy in 2019. They range from Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia to De Queen Medical Center in Sevier County, Ark., and Americore Health LLC, a company built on preserving rural hospitals. There’s more distress to come. Already this week, the bankrupt owner of St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles said it plans to shut the facility after a failed sale attempt. Americans are fleeing rural areas in favor of urban centers, reducing the demand for hospital services in already struggling communities. In both cities and towns, many hospitals that care for impoverished citizens often rely heavily on government payments that reimburse less than private insurers and may fail to cover rising costs. The American Hospital Association calculated that payments from Medicare and Medicaid lagged costs by $76.6 billion in 2018. Hospitals are also losing key income as more profitable procedures move to lower-cost outpatient centers. If that weren’t enough, with both Republicans and Democrats making a political football out of health care ahead of the 2020 presidential election, significant policy change could be near. “How are you supposed to craft a business plan if you don’t know if you’re going to have an America with Medicare for all, or a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or a million options in the middle?” said Samuel R. Maizel, a partner with the Dentons US LLP. “If you knew Elizabeth Warren was going to get elected, you’d be writing a very different business plan.” Even before the election, the current system is being challenged. The Trump administration is trying to tighten eligibility rules for Medicaid, while a rule proposed late last year could also cut billions of dollars in supplemental payments to hospitals. In a closely watched case, a district judge in Fort Worth, Texas, is weighing whether Obamacare can survive after an appeals court ruled that its broad mandate requiring people to have health insurance was unconstitutional. The usual playbook for managing distress doesn’t readily apply, as shutting down a hospital isn’t the same as boarding up a storefront. ABI

Liberals’ Wealth Tax Would Ripple through U.S. Economy, GOP Economist Says - ABI

Wealth tax proposals pushed by two leading Democratic presidential candidates would cost American workers more than $1 trillion, according to a study released by a conservative economist, as reported by The Washington Post. The wealth tax plans would raise trillions of dollars in new federal revenue, but would lead to lower pay by depleting business investment and therefore worker productivity, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who has served as director of the Congressional Budget Office. The wealth tax has emerged as a defining issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have called for using versions of it to fund large new government programs. Some of the tax proposals have elicited outrage from the wealthiest Americans, but supporters say the proposals are meant to address record levels of income inequality that continue to worsen. Conservatives have primarily criticized the wealth tax ideas as confiscatory and impractical, but the new paper makes the claim that it could have more far-reaching consequences in the American economy. “The tax constitutes a reduction in the supply of capital, and as a result it will reduce investment in innovation, lower productivity growth, and thus reduce wage growth,” Holtz-Eakin said. Several economists disputed Holtz-Eakin’s findings, arguing that he overstates, among other things, the wealth tax’s impact on business investment. Business investment has fallen in the past year after the Trump administration cut taxes, muddying assumptions over how changes in tax policy spur new investment. ABI

The Americans Joe Biden Left Behind on the Bankruptcy Bill - ABI

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new consumer bankruptcy plan aims squarely at unwinding one of former Vice President Joe Biden’s chief legislative accomplishments, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), according to commentary from Georgetown Prof. Adam J. Levitin in The American Prospect. The bankruptcy bill was perhaps the most anti-middle class piece of legislation in the past century. It was also Warren’s introduction into the bare-knuckle world of legislative politics. She fought the bill tirelessly and succeeded in blocking it for nearly a decade. Her new plan makes clear that she hasn’t given up the fight. Biden’s support for BAPCPA is well known, but his numerous roll call votes on amendments to the bill have never been previously examined. Warren’s plan draws sharp attention to these votes by adopting many of the very positions Biden opposed. An examination of Biden’s roll call votes paints a very different picture of Biden’s involvement with the bill than the vice president likes to present. The record makes clear that as a senator, Biden used his clout to push for the law’s passage and to defeat amendments to shield servicemembers, women, and children from its harsh treatment. When votes were taken, “Middle-Class Joe” was no friend to the middle class. Not only did the law discourage bankruptcy filings, but it made it harder to wipe out credit card debt and student loans in bankruptcy. The result was greater profits for consumer lending businesses, many of which are based in Biden’s state of Delaware. Not surprisingly, then, by lowering the risk of bad lending decisions, the Biden bankruptcy bill unleashed a glut of aggressive private student lending, which has contributed to the massive rise in student loan debt. ABI

U.S. Job Growth Seen Slowing in December After Robust Gains - ABI

U.S. job growth likely slowed in December, but the pace of hiring probably remains more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track despite a deepening downturn in a manufacturing sector stung by trade disputes, Reuters reported. The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday could buttress the Federal Reserve’s assessment that both the economy and monetary policy are in a “good place.” It would extend the run of upbeat data such as consumer spending, trade and housing that have suggested the expansion, now in its 11th year, is not in immediate danger of being derailed by a recession. Worries that a downturn might be triggered by the Trump administration’s trade war with China spurred the Fed to cut interest rates three times in 2019. Indeed economic growth did slow last year, throttling back to 2.1 percent in the third quarter from 2018’s pace of nearly 3 percent. With a Phase 1 deal with China set to be signed next week, policymakers are now more confident in the outlook and last month signaled borrowing costs could remain unchanged at least through this year. Economists are pegging growth at the end of last year around a 2.3 percent rate. Some of the anticipated slowdown in December is attributed to seasonal volatility associated with a later-than-normal Thanksgiving Day. ABI

Changing Court Attitudes on Bankruptcies - Inside Higher Ed

A decision this week by a federal judge in New York illustrates how some courts have in the past few years made it easier for people with crippling student loan debt to file for bankruptcy, say consumer advocates and legal experts.  But while advocates like John Rao, a National Consumer Law Center bankruptcy expert, see the trend as positive, they still believe federal laws need to be changed to make it easier to discharge student loans through bankruptcy. Inside Higher Ed

The banking tech trends that will dominate 2020 - American Banker

As a new decade begins, one of the major unresolved issues of the previous few years continues to haunt banks — when and how Big Tech will jump into financial services in a significant way. While Facebook has launched its Libra digital currency project and Google has begun partnering with Citigroup on checking accounts, these appear to be just the tip of the iceberg. Banking by 2030 could look very different than it does today. American Banker

Small Businesses Rush to Borrow Online, Sparking Fears of High Rates, Costly Terms - ABI

The growth of online lending has been a boon to hair salons, bakeries and other small businesses that don’t qualify for bank credit. Yet this tech-enabled source of credit can mire some in debt they can’t repay, raising concern about inadequate regulation, the Wall Street Journal reported. Some are extending credit at sky-high rates with opaque terms for costly fees and conditions, drawing comparisons with payday lenders who target consumers in need of quick cash, according to critics. “There is a significant number of bad actors who are mostly unregulated,” said Luz Urrutia, chief executive of Opportunity Fund, a California nonprofit that lends in lower-income communities. “They are really wreaking havoc across America’s small businesses.” Nearly a third of the small businesses surveyed applied for online loans in 2018, up from 19 percent in 2018, according to a Federal Reserve study. The market’s growth is driven by loans of less than $100,000, often as small as a few thousand dollars, according to experts. ABI

With Trump’s Farm Bailout Came Surprising Profits, but Little Help for the Neediest - ABI

While record rainfall made it difficult to plant corn and soybeans until long after the typical growing window had passed, President Trump’s long-running trade war cut off farmers’ access to China’s enormous market and commodity prices remained in the doldrums, the Agriculture Department estimates that 2019 was farmers’ most profitable in five years. The estimate is a result of the Market Facilitation Program, or the government's farm bailout, the Washington Post reported. Without government assistance, U.S. farm income would have fallen about $5 billion from its already-low 2018 level. So the $14.5 billion in bailout funding announced so far represents a substantial reversal of fortune. About three-quarters of the funding already has been distributed. “If you look at the prices, the weather and the trade imbalances, you’d expect the farm sector to be in a terrible spot,” Montana State University economist Eric Belasco said. "It’s not.” Most farmers benefited from the bailout, Belasco said, but because bailout money is distributed based on acreage and not farmer’s need, about half of the money (47 percent) went to the largest 10 percent of operations. According to 2018 data, more than 70 percent of farm households had a high level of financial risk in 2018. But of those that qualify as very large (median income $756,000), only 25 percent fit into that same category. ABI

Rising credit card debt boosts bank profits - Fox Business

Consumers are carrying near-record levels of credit card debt and the banking industry is a big beneficiary, according to the Washington Post. Card companies have increased interest rates and fees as credit balances rise. Industry experts say that will cost consumers who carry balances and don't pay off their bills every month. Credit card sales were up 10 percent at JPMorgan Chase and 5 percent at Citigroup in the third quarter. Fox Business