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NY Bankruptcy Judge: “Chapter 11, 15 Filings Have Exploded”

A stunning soundbite was captured by a Bloomberg reporter during last week’s event at the American Bankruptcy Institute. According to judges speaking at an ABI conference Thursday in Manhattan, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York is seeing a sharp rise in cases this year, with Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 filings outpacing national averages.

“Chapter 11s and Chapter 15s have exploded” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman, speaking at American Bankruptcy Institute event, cited by Bloomberg reporter Tiffany Kary.

The numbers for the bankruptcy court which serves Manhattan are, frankly, horrifying: Chapter 11s have tripled in the first quarter of the year, while Chapter 15s for companies seeking U.S. aid for a reorganization in a foreign court have increased sevenfold, Chapman added.

What makes New York data so dramatic is that the region’s bankruptcy filings contrast with national data, that show Chapter 11 filings are down slightly, Judge Carla Craig from Eastern District of New York said.

New York is not alone it seems: As Bloomberg adds, Judge Brendan Shannon from Delaware said he has also seen an uptick in Chapter 11s and Chapter 15s, though not as marked as in New York. Shannon also sees trend in retail and energy sector bankruptcies continuing, based on current cases .

The culprit? Take one guess:

“The report is that for at least a lot of retailers, it is certainly a difficult, if not flat out impossible environment to operate in,” Shannon said. “We do see more of those cases likely on the horizon.”

And while we appreciate the transfer of business from bricks and mortar retail to online, it is simply impossible that the millions of soon to be laid off legacy retail, minimum-wage workers will find suitable employment in the coming retail bankruptcy tsunami (which will claim the following 11 names next according to Fitch), and which will unleash a tidal wave of bankruptcies first across New York, and soon after, across the entire US. How far this particular destructive tsunami of default will reach, and how fast, will determine just how acute the next recession will be.

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