You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘default’ tag.

Dear readers and followers, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve moved to a new website:

Image

I’ve also kicked things off with a new post on the subject of Household Deleveraging, discussing why consumers need to dump their debt as part of the boom/bust cycle:

Image

Hope to see you over there,

Paul

Advertisements

There's something about this debt that stinks!

The mountain of personal debt which many people are struggling to repay was leant by banks in the rapacious pursuit of profit, a hostile act that was not in the personal interest of borrowers – it is therefore ‘odious debt’ and should not be repaid.

 

Why am I in Debt?

Have you ever sat down and looked at your debt liability only to feel that somehow you’ve been played, duped or conned? Sure, you take responsibility for taking out all those cards and loans, after all, nobody was holding a gun to your head as you signed the agreements, but still, you can’t help feeling that it’s all a set-up. There’s something about it that stinks.

Why is it that you were lent so much money with few or no questions asked? Why didn’t the bank run a cross-check with other lenders to see how much existing debt you were already carrying? Yes, something’s not quite right. And if it feels a little like somebody maybe wanted you to be in debt then that’s because this is exactly the crux of the personal debt crisis and the reason why so many people are saddled with crippling liabilities: banks wanted people to have all their cards and loans because it meant big profits for them – they didn’t care whether it was going to be damaging for you or not.

And now you’re buckling under the weight of repayment. You’re looking at years of hard graft and are struggling to see the light at the end of tunnel. Well, there is an answer. As the world wakes up to the fact that the system is rigged in favour of the few, the legions of debtors in thrall to the power of the banks can, with a little smart thinking, extricate themselves from their trap by taking a cue from nation states who have successfully used the concept of odious debt to declare national debts unenforceable and as a justification for defaulting.

What is Odious Debt?

The term ‘odious debt’ is a fantastic phrase, evoking a sense that there is something rotten about a particular debt, that this debt stinks! But what exactly is odious debt?

The Wikipedia entry for Odious Debt describes the term as:

“In international law, odious debt is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion.”

The founding father of the odious debt principle was Alexander Sack, a lawyer in post-revolutionary Russia. In seeking to distinguish between debts incurred for the benefit of a nation and debts incurred by a regime for self-serving purposes, Sack also considered the role of the lenders, believing that creditors who lent to regimes in the knowledge that the money would be used for ends which were contrary to the interests of the nation had actually committed a hostile act (with regard to the people) and consequently could not expect a nation freed from that regime to assume liability for these debts.

From Macro to Micro – how is my personal debt odious debt?

It is Sack’s identification of the lender’s role and recognition of their awareness that they were lending money in an unethical manner, purely in the pursuit of profit and without caring for the purposes to which the money was being put to, that is transferrable to the current personal debt crisis and consideration on the part of individuals in deciding to default.

Creditors who lent to people in the knowledge that the money being lent was contrary to the interest of the individual, as occurred with the predatory lending practices of the banks during the easy credit era, have created an odious debt at the micro level and this can be used as an ethical justification for defaulting on personal debt.

Consider the fact that pre-credit crunch, the banks were actively targeting people who they knew would never be able to fully repay their debts as these people made for the most profitable customers. If foisting credit upon Bill & Nora Poorfucker living on a council estate and working part-time in the local charity shop is not a hostile act on the part of the lender then it’s difficult to imagine what is. Also, the banks were so aggressive in their marketing and promotion of credit (think constant mailshots and credit card cheques landing on the doormat every other day) and didn’t care two hoots what people they lent to would actually do with money or what they wanted it for – just the type of practices that can be considered contrary to the interests of the individual.

When we consider the nature of the money lent during the credit boom – particularly why and how it was lent – a strong case can be made for justifying default (on personal debt) on an odious debt principle.

 

Who will enter the Bankruptcy Hall of Fame?

It’s almost time to close the piss-takers parade that is the ‘Bankruptcy Heroes’ poll and announce a winner. However, the audacious debt-dodging deeds of regular punters Phillip Hoare & Leigh Cooke, have put them way out in front of the chasing pack and this pair are currently neck-and-neck with 21% of the vote each!

An outright winner is needed so I can track them down to present them with their award: a copy of The Bankruptcy Diaries and an interview slot on this blog.

So, please cast your votes and decide who should enter the Bankruptcy Hall of Fame – should it be the ex-copper with many vices, or the smash ‘n’ grab chancer?

You can cast your vote by visiting the Bankruptcy Heroes page. Voting closes at the end of the month 30/11/2011

Stressed Borrowing = Desperation

Today’s press is full of reports of Britain’s return to borrowing on credit cards and personal loans, however, unlike the orgy of spending during the pre-crisis years this recent spike in unsecured borrowing is a result of people being unable to pay for essentials – what is known as ‘stressed borrowing’. Some of the key facts are:

• Borrowing on cards & loans has been increasing over the last 7 months as households struggle to make ends meet.

• There was an increase in borrowing on cards & loans of £629m in September compared to the August increase of £478m. The total figure for individual borrowing now stands at nearly £1.5 trillion.

• Borrowing on cards & loans is increasing at double the rate of mortgage lending, suggesting that people are turning to credit to get through the month. This is backed up by research from Shelter

 

Stressed borrowing = desperation

I myself am no stranger to stressed borrowing, having overspent on cards and loans and then finding myself in the dreadful position where I had to resort to credit card borrowing to get through the month. This awful vicious circle – involving endless anxiety, sleepless nights and stress – where debt spirals out of control, inevitably leads to a full blown debt crisis and is something I documented in my book. Whatever the cause of your stressed borrowing it is essential to face up to the reality of the situation: borrowing on cards and loans to pay for essentials and get through the month is a sign that things are out of control and you are only compounding your situation by continuing to borrow.

 

What to do?

If you are borrowing to get through the month then clearly you have a problem and need to do something about it – your situation will not improve if you fail to confront it and do nothing. Be decisive; today is the day you are going to regain control of your life.

Can you negotiate a move favourable repayment plan with your creditors? Is this even a realistic proposition? Perhaps you are a mini-Greece and no amount of restructuring is going to help, as you would simply be delaying the inevitable and enduring miserable living conditions in the process. So investigate different forms of insolvency: Debt Relief Orders, IVA’s or Bankruptcy.

Whatever your situation, it is vital that you DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Your life will not improve until you do. The best thing I ever did was confront my problem and take a decision. Think about how good it is going to feel when you do hit on a solution and think about how you’ll feel on that day when you are finally debt free…

 

Help! I’m in trouble – Where to go for debt advice

If you are struggling to get through the month or worried about debt then I would suggest trying the Consumer Credit Counselling Service’s ‘Debt Remedy’ online advice facility, as well as encouraging you to look at forums on the Consumer Action Group website, specifically ‘Debt’ and ‘Banks & Credit’.

Never pay for debt advice as there are plenty of charities and forums that will give you the same information without seeking to profit from your situation.

The number of asset-less debtors going bankrupt has reached such levels that the cost of processing these bankruptcies is becoming unsustainable for the Insolvency Service, according to Stephen Speed, chief executive and inspector general of the Insolvency Service, who was speaking at the recent Insolvency Today annual conference.

While this news of asset-less debtors using our easy bankruptcy laws to start afresh is encouraging, Speed also said that a point had almost been reached whereby taxpayer money would be required to cover the shortfall of the processing costs, which, according to reports, seems likely given that the Insolvency Service was forced to write of £81 million earlier this year.

Try the Banks

No, you're not having any of it back

Following the great taxpayer robbery of the banking bailouts – where free-market profit-chasers brought the world to its knees with their financial jiggery-pokery and eye-watering bonuses and then went cap in hand to the state when it all blew up – the idea of more taxpayer money being required to plug a hole, this time to cover the mistakes of individual borrowers, will no doubt result in more opprobrium being directed at debtors by the more pious sectors of society. Yet, and now stop me if this sounds ridiculous, surely it would be better to assess each individual’s case and try to determine whether the lenders had been at all culpable and had irresponsibly lent to people they knew would have little chance of paying the money back?

Making the banks pay for their mistakes and their greed – what a ridiculous notion.

Your bankruptcy will appear in the newspaper

To anyone who is maybe worried about their bankruptcy appearing in the newspaper, here I am talking about it in my home town newspaper. However, despite the publicity I am still a long way behind Kerry Katona.

You can view the pdf of the article here: Chron article 2

 

I was recently asked by the guys from the Debtology website to write a guest post in response to an earlier article on the subject of bankruptcy (‘Bankruptcy – what IS the big deal?).

In my piece I talk about why we need our easy bankruptcy laws and also about how attitudes toward debt and bankruptcy are changing.  

If you are thinking about going bankrupt but are maybe worried about how you will be perceived, then you should definitely have a read.

The article is available here.

PS. If you are worried about debt and in need of free debt advice, then perhaps the guys from Debtology can help.

A recent article by Lisa O’Carroll highlighted the interesting phenomenon of bankruptcy tourists from Ireland heading to the UK to discharge their debts. Due to more favourable insolvency laws – a bankrupt in the UK is discharged after just twelve months, whereas in Ireland it’s a draconian twelve years – Irish debtors are doing the sensible thing and crossing the sea for a quick release from debt.

Fish 'n' Chips, Tea, Becoming Debt Free

The most fascinating revelation in the article was that, ‘as few as 29 people were made bankrupt in Ireland last year’, a staggeringly low number considering the severity of the property crash in the Republic, especially when compared to the 79,000 who went bankrupt in the UK during the same period. It’s not difficult to deduce that the UK is effectively operating as Ireland’s bankruptcy court, which is considerably more helpful to Irish citizens than another bailout loan. Although ascertaining exactly how many of the UK’s bankrupts are made up of Irish citizens would be difficult, and clearly some Irish debtors will be eloping overseas without bothering with any formal debt discharge procedures (I would love to hear from you guys).

I just hope the message is getting through to the people at the bottom. The Irish banks have had their bailout, in turn subjecting citizens to some of the most brutal cuts in Europe. Now we hear tales of Irish property speculators bailing themselves out, by utilising UK laws. I’ve already called for a ‘People’s Bailout’, and now I extend this call to the people of Ireland – don’t be the chump left with a sackful of debt whilst everyone else extricates themselves from the mess. Get yourselves over to the UK and get rid of that debt!

Update: I have found a great article with information for Irish citizens wishing to go bankrupt in the UK. If you wish to know more then click here.

Thou shalt remain in servitude

The latest insolvency statistics were released yesterday and, as usually follows such announcements, the comment threads of news sites were awash with the protestations of indignant moralisers, complaining about the unjustness of it all – at how people can simply walk away and leave a trail of bad debts. Perhaps these preachers should stop for a moment to consider the absurdity of their outdated position?

Post- economic crisis, the banks have been bailed out leaving the citizens of this country to bear the brunt of savage cuts, which are the result of a huge deficit caused by the bankers’ unchecked greed and recklessness. Yet nothing has changed – the rotten system remains unfixed, and huge bonuses are being paid out once again. Proof of a return to ‘avarice as usual’, on the part of the global elite, was confirmed by Bob Diamond, CEO of Barclays, who last month brazenly told the Treasury Select Committee that, “there was a period of remorse and apology for banks and I think that period needs to be over”.

Ten Hail Marys...

In light of the gross inequalities of a rigged system – where the rich and powerful continue to profit and the masses take the pain – crying foul over those at the bottom freeing themselves from the debt shackles handed to them by the global lever pullers, is to effectively disseminate the banks propaganda for them, helping to keep the system functioning. 

A People’s Bailout

So the bankers have had their bailout and announced that their period of penance is over, but what of the millions of indebted people who don’t have anyone coming to their rescue? The people have an escape route too – in the form of easy insolvency laws. So if you’re over-indebted then don’t think twice about opting to bail out. Certainly don’t listen to the howls of righteous indignation as you announce your decision. Grab the parachute, take the leap, and float down into the land of freedom…

Can't handle life in a cage man

With massive student protests taking place in London today I’ve noticed a lot of web chatter about potentially putting oneself through university, racking up the fees and then declaring yourself bankrupt afterwards. A very shrewd move. However, this loophole was closed years ago after a few canny students began doing this. But the idea is a good one.

Sing for Free Education!

My advice would be to pay off the student loans with personal loans and credit cards before going bankrupt. However, one needs to be very careful here. The authorities are not stupid and could either reject your bankruptcy petition, or slap with you with a restriction order that lasts a decade. For this reason I would allow a good stretch of time to pass after paying off the student loans, keep racking up as much debt as possible – have ball whilst you’re at it – and then press the bankruptcy button a year or two down the line. I’m not sure whether this would work but I’d love to see somebody try. Well, it has been a day of protest and revolt…

%d bloggers like this: