Tag Archives: Olympia bankruptcy attorney

1959 Cadillac tail fins, chrome and post-war exhuberance – GM designer Chuck Jordan dies at 83

In this dark and ongoing recession, or lukewarm recovery (whatever you want to call it) perhaps a revisit of 1959 would be a welcome diversion.

1959 marked the huge tail-fins of the Cadillac. Chuck Jordan was the designer. He just passed at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., the General Motors patriarch, had hired the first design director of General Motors in 1927, Harley Earl. Mr. Earl was a confidant of movie stars and like his close friend Cecil B. DeMille, favored Jodhpurs.

Mr. Jordan was the third successor to Mr. Earl as G.M.’s vice president of design, and his boldness echoed that of Mr. Earl. The tail fins on the 1959 Cadillac El Dorado was “letting the tiger out of the cage” in the words of Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Jordan also designed the “wide track” Pontiac, the baby boomers’ cherished muscle cars. Other designs included the 1963 Buick Riviera, the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado, and the 1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. His vision was that of longer, lower, wider–and intended to excite.

At age 30, Mr. Jordan was named to one of G.M.’s most prestigious posts, chief designer for Cadillac.

He also worked on the 1990s design team for the Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds.

He did have one dog…or rather “whale”…which was the 1991 Chevrolet Caprice, which was derided as “Shamu the Whale”.

So long, Mr. Jordan. Thank you for something so wonderfully American. Thank you for the tail fins.

Lukewarm recovery will continue; no significant decreases in unemployment for 2011 or 2012.

[categories: Washington Bankruptcy Attorney]

The Seattle Times, Kristi Keim, page A13, January 14, 2011:

The U.S. is expected to chip away at unemployment only very slowly reports Michael Dueker, Russell Investments’ head economist for North America.

Usually, a recession is followed by a fast snap back to growth, as happened in the early 1980s. The economy grew 7.0% annually for the next year and one-half. This is not happening, says Mr. Dueker, and it will take all of 2011 to get the unemployment rate reduced by a mere 1/2 percentage point.

In contrast to slow U.S. growth, the world economy is expected to grow at 4.0% to 5.0% this year.

Ken Goldstein, an economist with The Conference Board, notes that the U.S. will grow only 2.5% this year and 2.6% in 2012. Confidence in the economy is a major problem, according to Ken Goldstein.

Foreclosures are likely to peak in 2011, but can be stopped by a bankruptcy filing

Foreclosure woes for Washington homeowners are far from over, and bankruptcy filings may be the next step.

According to an article by Janna Herron of the Associated Press that was published in the Seattle Times, January 14, 2011, on page A13, the last three years of foreclosures in Western Washington:

Year 2008  2009  2010

King 2,052 4,190 6,063

Snohomish 911 1,968 3,240

Pierce 2,258 3,782 3,773

Kitsap 430 671 652

Total 8,802 16,017 20,749

One in every 45 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing last year, a record 2.9 million of them, and these lead to bankruptcy filings everywhere in order to stop foreclosure in Tacoma and also other jurisdictions. That’s up 1.67% from 2009. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages.

The firm Realty-Trac predicts 1.2 million homes will be repossessed this year 2011.

In Washinton, the housing crisis started later than the rest of the country and also appears to be peaking later; total foreclosure filings were up 24 percent from 2009. Foreclosure filings in King County rose 29%; there were also increases of 32% in Snohomish and 8% in Pierce County.

Nevada posted the highest foreclosure rate in 2010 for the fourth straight year. Washington state ranked 18th, with Snohomish County seeing the top foreclosure rate. Pierce County, Clark, Grays Harbor, and Cowlitz counties rounded out the top five.

The Law Offices of James H. MaGee can answer your questions about bankruptcy and foreclosure anywhere in the State of Washington. Contact us at our offices in Tacoma, Renton, Puyallup, Olympia, Chehalis, and Bremerton to learn more about your options. We strive to answer your questions in a courteous, confidential, and caring manner.

Credit Report Nuts and Bolts, Part 5 of 6: Credit repair scams and overreacting to threats about damaging your credit rating

The National Consumer Law Center warns heartily against “credit repair” scams.

The NCLC debunks the “credit repair” claims:

– “We can erase bad credit” – The truth is that no one can erase bad credit information from your report if it is truthful and accurate.

– “Only we can remove old or inaccurate information” – this is untrue because you can correct any old or inaccurate information yourself. There is no reason to pay a huckster to do it for you.

-“We will erase even accurate poor credit history information, even if it is accurate” – Lying to a credit report agency is illegal.

If you have been hoodwinked into a “credit repair” scam, here is a few things you should know.

First, you may have some protections. Federal laws and some state laws require credit repair companies to provide mandatory disclosures before you sign up.

Second, the credit repair company is not allowed to provide any services to you until three days after you sign a written and dated contract.

Third, the credit repair scam is not allowed to charge you in advance under certain laws.

Fourth, you have a right to cancel the credit repair scam contract without giving any reason (do it in writing!) within three days of signing the written contract.

A collection agency pressuring you to pay under threat of making a negative credit report entry is a hollow threat. Under arrangements that the collection agency likely has with the credit reporting agency (or agencies) they are required to make a report every month anyway. So do not give away your last dollar to a threatening collection agency in order to “save” your credit report from “damage”. The negative credit history is likely to be reported to the credit reporting company anyway under the reciprocity requirements between the credit report company and the collection agency.

Symbol of Lady Justice: Where did the lady with the blindfold, sword, and scales come from?

This post is a bit off topic for this blog, but I thought you might find something a bit out of the ordinary refreshing.

The lady with the balance scales, sword, and blindfold comes from ancient history. This symbol is used in American jurisprudence as a representation of judicial justice.

She was known as Maat in ancient Egypt – the goddess of harmony and order. She is depicted in the Book of the Dead as weighing a human heart against a feather to determine a soul’s fate in the afterlife.

She evolved in ancient Grecian lore to become Themis, sister, wife and counselor to Zeus.

Roman mythology rolled Themis and her sister Dike together to form Justitia, the only one of the cardinal virtues to have a signature look in ancient art, reports Randy Kennedy in the New York Times, Thursday, December 16, 2010 edition.

Mr. Kennedy cites a recent book/treatise by Yale Law School professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis. Resnik and Curtis recite that Lady Justice’s familiar blindfold did not become her fashion accessory until late in the 17th century (the 1600s).

Resnik and Curtis recite that medieval and Renaissance people did not view blindfolds favorably. Up into the 1600s sight was considered a virtue, and thus a blindfold carried a very negative connotation. Resnik/Curtis recite that a medieval/Renaissance term for a blindfold was a “hoodwink” – a noun – which today means to trick or deceive someone with an accompanying very negative connotation.

One interesting thing is that the image of Lady Justice seems to be something almost approaching universal although the exact look varies from culture to region. The Lady Justice figure can be found in courts from a statue at the Supreme Cout of Canada in Ottawa to one presideing over a constitutional court in Azerbaijan. The image can be found in courts of Zambia, Iraq, Brazil and Japan, according to Resnik/Curtis as reported by Randy Kennedy.

American Bankruptcy Institute–14% increase in bankruptcy filings during Jan to June 2010 compared to same period in 2009

According to an article posted on the American Bankruptcy Institute website on 8/23/10:

“The total number of U.S. bankruptcies filed during the first six months of 2010 increased 14% over the same six-month period in 2009, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Filings were up 20% over the past year to 1,572,597, up from 1,306,315 filed in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2009. Total filings reached 810,209 during the first half of the calendar year of 2010 (January 1-June 30), compared to 711,550 cases filed over the same period in 2009. The totals represent the highest number of filings for the first six months of a calendar year since 2005, when the Bankruptcy Code was amended.

The 422,061 new cases filed in the second quarter represent the highest total since the fourth quarter of 2005. Business filings decreased 4% for the six-month period ending June 30, 2010, to 29,059 from the first-half 2009 total of 30,333.

Chapter 11 business reorganizations registered the sharpest decrease, as the 6,152 filings during the first half of 2010 represented a 17% drop from the 7,396 total chapter 11 business filings during the first half of 2009. Chapter 7 business liquidations remained nearly unchanged, as there were 20,385 in the first half of 2010, a half percent increase from the 20,375 business chapter 7 filings during the same period in 2009.

Filings by individuals or households with consumer debt increased 15% to 781,150 for the six-month period ending June 30, 2010, as compared to the 2009 first-half total of 681,217. Consumers filing for chapter 7 protection increased 17% to 571,417 during the first half of 2010 from 489,128 during the first six months of 2009. Consumer chapter 13 filings increased as well, rising 9% as 208,778 consumers filed for chapter 13 in the first half of 2010 from 191,458 during the first half of 2009.”

Full disclosure: The Law Firm of James MaGee, Washington Bankruptcy Attorney, is a proud member and supporter of ABI, the leading national bankruptcy professional organization.

Ideas for Action: It’s no secret that many people and families are struggling in today’s economy. Bankruptcy is a Prudent Step Towards Rebuilding Your Life. You should not feel guilty or embarrassed for having filed bankruptcy. Popular folklore holds that Henry Ford filed for bankruptcy five times! Psychologists say families, relationships and marriages fail most often because of financial pressures. If financial strain is damaging your health and personal relationships, you should consider bankruptcy.

“Business” bankruptcy is often a waste of time for mom & pop businesses–just file a personal bankruptcy case and move on, says Wall Street Journal columnist

Here is the link to a short but helpful article about small business bankruptcies in The Wall Street Journal. I am pleased that what I have suggested for many years finds favor with a Wall Street Journal columnist.

With most of my small service-based business customers, including businesses as varied as residential construction and restaurants, it usually makes sense to look at a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case filed as a personal case. I recommend this approach because in most cases, the small business’ debt is personally guaranteed by the business owners, whether the debt consists of Small Business Administration guaranteed loans, vehicle title loans or credit cards. Frequently, the business can keep right on operating, but of course you should consult with a qualified attorney before launching off into any sort of bankruptcy filing.

Ideas for Action: how do you find a qualified bankruptcy attorney? I suggest three ways.

First, ask the attorney how many cases he or she filed in the calendar year January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006; the attorney can easily consult the computer program used to prepare the documents to find out how many cases were filed each year, and if fewer than 70 or so cases were filed by the attorney in 2006, then I say beware. You may have an attorney who just started out after the 2005 law change took effect but didn’t attend any of the important 2006 era seminars when the best education about the new 2005 law was then available.

Second, ensure that the attorney is “connected” professionally via memberships in both the American Bankruptcy Institute as well as NACBA, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney.

Third, ensure that over the past five years, the attorney has attended no fewer than five seminars for a total of no fewer than 50 hours of bankruptcy education since 2005.

These three suggested standards should help you ensure that you have engaged an experienced, professional attorney.

Mortgage modifications failing, meeting only 16% of intended goals, says NY Times

NY Times columnist David Streitfeld reports that the dropout rate from the Making Home Affordable Program (HAMP) is very high. 96,000 trial modifications were canceled by the lenders in July 2010. The number of canceled trial modifications now exceeds 616,000.

Those numbers are leading some housing experts to call the program, which modestly rewards lenders for modifying mortgages, a failure.

About 422,000 mortgage modifications overseen by the government were considered permanent as of July 2010, up from 389,000 in June. But the pool of candidates is shrinking rapidly. Only 17,000 trial modifications were started in July, down sharply from the 150,000 enrolled in September 2009 when the program was new according to a report by NY Times columnist David Streitfeld.

After reviewing the new data, Calculated Risk, a popular financial blog, wrote, “Those borrowers are still up to their eyeballs in debt after the modification,” and many will default again.

“My concern is that if we have another protracted housing dip, it’s going to bring the economy down.” Mr. Feder, chief executive of the real estate data firm Radar Logic explains, saying that he expects prices to ‘get whacked’  in the Fall of 2010.

“If consumers don’t think their houses are worth what they were six months ago, they’re not going to go out and spend money. I’m concerned this problem isn’t being addressed,” says Mr. Feder as quoted in the article by Mr. Streitfeld of the NY Times, published on Saturday, August 21, 2010.

Mortgage modifications well below target: Americans need more help says NY Times 300,000 foreclosure filings for third month in a row — 92,858 homes repossessed in July, 2010

“As repossessed homes are put up for sale, house prices are likely to fall further. As prices fall, more borrowers end up “underwater”–they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. That’s a big risk factor for default.

Moody’s Economy.com estimates that 1.9 million homes will be lost this year, down only slightly from 2 million in 2009.

So far only 398,198 loans have been permanently modified, and only $321 million of the $30.1 billion allocated to the home modification program has thus far been spent.

Part of the problem is poor administration. Homeowners, who apply to their bank or mortgage service company, complain about confusing procedures and lost paperwork. Banks have complained of frequent rule changes from the government.

Another big problem is that many lenders, whose participation in the program is voluntary, have been reluctant to aggressively rework bad loans. Reducing a loan’s principal balance–rather than lowering interest levels or extending pay out periods–is often the chance of keeping underwater borrowers in their homes. Banks have been loath to accept the bigger losses that come with lowering principal. Fearing that banks will drop out of the program altogether, the Treasury has not pushed them hard enough.”

The August 20, 2010 NY Times OpEd piece proposes that the use of the states to give money directly to temporarily unemployed or under-employed individual homeowners to make mortgage payments through the Hardest Hit program (part of HAMP, which is part of TARP), through about which 4.1 billion has thus far been disbursed, may be a better route than the loan modification programs emphasized thus far to date.

Ideas for Action: Don’t expect to modify yourself out of a bad situation. You will never see a mortgage loan principal balance deduction. If you don’t mind a temporarily lower payment but still remaining underwater on your home, then I suppose a mortgage modification is not so bad. You might want to consider a “lien strip” through Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you have a second mortgage and if the value of the home is less than the amount owed on the first mortgage.

10 Cents on the Dollar: How to pay off your home equity line of credit

NY Times columnist David Streitfeld’s article entitled, “Debts Rise, and Go Unpaid, as Bust Erodes Home Equity”, published in The New York Times on August 12, 2010, asserts that most investors expect less than 10 cents on the dollar for defaulted home equity lines of credit such as second mortgages.

“Lenders wrote off as uncollectible $11.1 billion in home equity loans and $19.9 billion in home equity lines of credit in 2009, more than they wrote of on primary mortgages, government data shows. So far this year, the trend is the same, with combined write-offs of $7.88 billion in the first quarter. Even when a lender forces a borrower to settle through legal action, it can rarely extract more than 10 cents on the dollar. ‘People got 90 cents for free,’ Mr. Combs said. ‘It rewards immorality to some extent.'” Mr. Combs is a realty lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, who tries to negotiate deals with home equity line of credit HELOC loans.

Utah Loan Servicing chief executive Clark Terry buys defaulted home equity loans from lenders, and reports that he does not pay more than $500 for any one loan, regardless of how big it is, “Anything over $15,000 to $20,000 is not collectible. Americans believe that anything they can get away with is O.K.”

The delinquency rate on home equity loans was an astonishing 4.12% in the first quarter of 2010, down slightly from the fourth quarter of 2009, when it was the highest in 26 years of such record keeping, according to Mr. Streitfeld.

Mr. Streitfeld reports that during the “great boom” homeowners nationwide borrowed a trillion dollars from banks, using the soaring value of their homes as loan security. With the money now spent, some homeowners cannot pay. Surprisingly, it seems that delinquencies on this type of debt is greater than all other types of consumer loans, including auto loans, boat loans, personal loans and even bank cards like Visa and MasterCard. Mr. Streitfeld cites info from the American Bankers Association on this point.

Ideas for Action: Is it time to contact your second mortgage company and negotiate–offering 5 to 10 cents on the dollar?