The business world is paradoxical. The worst thing that can happen to your business, technically speaking, is bankruptcy. This process, as well as debt restructuring, is something that nobody wants to go through. We all want to make money, thrive, expand, and achieve our dreams. And one might think that nobody, absolutely nobody, wants bankruptcy, but it is not true. Not only does the competition want your bankruptcy (sad, but true,) but there are people who live and earn millions thanks to the bankruptcy of others. The industry of bankruptcy and debt restructuring is a paradox of the commercial world, a perfectly possible one, which is even growing. Let’s talk a bit about the subject.
This industry has not always had good times, though. In fact, all the agents that make up this current giant, from lawyers, hedge funds, banks, to lenders (of course) were a risky industry during the golden years of the FED lending. Even during the great crisis of the end of the last decade, this industry did not have much protagonism in the economy until two years ago. Interestingly, for two years, and particularly throughout the past year, commercial bankruptcy filings have increased at a surprising rate (which troubling for some, of course, but fortunately for others.) The official statistics were almost thirty percent during last year compared to 2015: Something that had not happened since the beginning of this decade, and that attracted the attention of financial analysts around the world.
The issue is that the phenomenon of the growth or declining bankruptcy filings and the eventual (but almost always subsequent) debt restructurings depends on the chaotic fluctuations of the economy, and the predictions about these drastic and permanent changes are very difficult to realize. In fact, the predictions on the major crises only come with little time in advance.
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Although this great economic crisis that many experts announce (and which, by the way, is quite feasible, even taking into account the randomness that surrounds this type of circumstances) has not yet taken place, it is a fact that in the present year there has been a significant increase of bankrupt companies seeking to restructure their debts; and this, of course, has allowed the bankruptcy industry to gain a lot of ground.
While it is true that since the economic crisis of 2008 our economy has changed, things are not very encouraging. At present, seventy-three million American citizens claim that their financial situation is difficult. This implies that in the event of any emergency arising in their homes (for example, a medical one, in the event that there is no insurance covering it,) there is no money available to support them, and more indebtedness every day. This debt mass produces a synergy that directly affects the national economy. At present, the total consumer debt reaches almost twelve billion dollars, and because the increase in the cost of living has outpaced the income growth in the last 12 years, our country’s households are increasingly indebted.
In the past two years, hundreds of gigantic shopping centers have been abandoned, and a large number of retailer chains close every day. Under these conditions, many people seem to be paying to work. What is worrying is that not only companies are bankrupt, but cities (and not to mention countries.) The mismanagement of local administrations, the bad investments, and the real estate crisis take its toll on seven US cities that threaten to resurrect the ghost of the Great Depression. As with Detroit in 2013, Atlantic City is now on the verge of bankruptcy, which is why New Jersey lawmakers agreed on a bailout plan that would prevent the city to get deep into a serious slowdown.
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Puerto Rico, on the other hand, is experiencing a severe economic crisis with a poverty rate of 45%, and an unemployment level that doubles the US average. It makes that most of its population immigrates to the continental United States. In fact, the governor of the island has announced that Puerto Rico is taking part in a bankruptcy process in order to restructure the multimillion-dollar debt of the island (more than $ 70 billion, by the way.)
Even business opportunities in this growing industry are not limited to our country and its financial turmoil. The industry of bankruptcy and restructuring around the world is also increasing, especially if we consider that airlines, shipping companies, and oil corporations in many countries are in decline. Many experts expect that this year will increase the opportunities for the restructuring of these millionaires debts by 57%.
What does this imply? A lot of work for those who benefit from it, not only in the private sphere but also in the public one. It’s a good time for lawyers, banks and large economic conglomerates: Some of the most hated people around the world. Big crises never hurt everyone, neither the boom times. Sad but true? I do not know. That is just how things really are.
* Featured Image courtesy of Burak Kebapci at Pexels.com