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Bankruptcy in America, in stark contrast to its status in most other countries, typically signifies not a debtor's last gasp but an opportunity to catch one's breath and recoup. Why has the nation's legal system evolved to allow both corporate and individual debtors greater control over their fate than imaginable elsewhere? Masterfully probing the political dynamics behind this question, David Skeel here provides the first complete account of the remarkable journey American bankruptcy law has taken from its beginnings in 1800, when Congress lifted the country's first bankruptcy code right out of English law, to the present day.

Skeel shows that the confluence of three forces that emerged over many years--an organized creditor lobby, pro-debtor ideological currents, and an increasingly powerful bankruptcy bar--explains the distinctive contours of American bankruptcy law. Their interplay, he argues in clear, inviting prose, has seen efforts to legislate bankruptcy become a compelling battle royale between bankers and lawyers--one in which the bankers recently seem to have gained the upper hand. Skeel demonstrates, for example, that a fiercely divided bankruptcy commission and the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress have yielded the recent, ideologically charged battles over consumer bankruptcy.

The uniqueness of American bankruptcy has often been noted, but it has never been explained. As different as twenty-first century America is from the horse-and-buggy era origins of our bankruptcy laws, Skeel shows that the same political factors continue to shape our unique response to financial distress.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. CONTENTS
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. PREFACE
  2. pp. ix-xiv
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  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. pp. 1-20
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  1. PART ONE: THE BIRTH OF U.S. INSOLVENCY LAW
  2. pp. 21-22
  1. CHAPTER ONE: The Path to Permanence in 1898
  2. pp. 23-47
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  1. CHAPTER TWO: Railroad Receivership and the Elite Reorganization Bar
  2. pp. 48-70
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  1. PART TWO: THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND NEW DEAL
  2. pp. 71-72
  1. CHAPTER THREE: Escaping the New Deal: The Bankruptcy Bar in the 1930s
  2. pp. 73-100
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  1. CHAPTER FOUR: William Douglas and the Rise of the Securities and Exchange Commission
  2. pp. 101-128
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  1. PART THREE: THE REVITALIZATION OF BANKRUPTCY
  2. pp. 129-130
  1. CHAPTER FIVE: Raising the Bar with the 1978 Bankruptcy Code
  2. pp. 131-159
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  1. CHAPTER SIX: Repudiating the New Deal with Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code
  2. pp. 160-184
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  1. PART FOUR: THE VIEW FROM THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
  2. pp. 185-186
  1. CHAPTER SEVEN: Credit Cards and the Return of Ideology in Consumer Bankruptcy
  2. pp. 187-211
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  1. CHAPTER EIGHT: Bankruptcy as a Business Address: The Growth of Chapter 11 in Practice and Theory
  2. pp. 212-237
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  1. EPILOGUE: Globalization and U.S. Bankruptcy Law
  2. pp. 238-244
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  1. NOTES
  2. pp. 245-272
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  1. INDEX
  2. pp. 273-281
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400828500
Related ISBN
9780691116372
MARC Record
OCLC
878147791
Pages
296
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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