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State Bankruptcy Option Is Sought, Quietly – The New York Times, new business idea.#New
A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens
Policymakers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.
Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.
But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois , for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.
Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides.
Bankruptcy could permit a state to alter its contractual promises to retirees, which are often protected by state constitutions, and it could provide an alternative to a no-strings bailout. Along with retirees, however, investors in a state’s bonds could suffer, possibly ending up at the back of the line as unsecured creditors.
“All of a sudden, there’s a whole new risk factor,” said Paul S. Maco, a partner at the firm Vinson Elkins who was head of the Securities and Exchange Commission ’s Office of Municipal Securities during the Clinton administration.
For now, the fear of destabilizing the municipal bond market with the words “state bankruptcy” has proponents in Congress going about their work on tiptoe. No draft bill is in circulation yet, and no member of Congress has come forward as a sponsor, although Senator
, a Texas Republican, asked the Federal Reserve chairman,
, about the possiblity in a hearing this month.
House Republicans, and Senators from both parties, have taken an interest in the issue, with nudging from bankruptcy lawyers and a former House speaker,
, who could be a Republican presidential candidate. It would be difficult to get a bill through Congress, not only because of the constitutional questions and the complexities of bankruptcy law, but also because of fears that even talk of such a law could make the states’ problems worse.
Lawmakers might decide to stop short of a full-blown bankruptcy proposal and establish instead some sort of oversight panel for distressed states, akin to the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which helped New York City during its fiscal crisis of 1975.
Still, discussions about something as far-reaching as bankruptcy could give governors and others more leverage in bargaining with unionized public workers.
“They are readying a massive assault on us,” said Charles M. Loveless, legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees . “We’re taking this very seriously.”
Mr. Loveless said he was meeting with potential allies on Capitol Hill, making the point that certain states might indeed have financial problems, but public employees and their benefits were not the cause. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report on Thursday warning against a tendency to confuse the states’ immediate budget gaps with their long-term structural deficits.
“States have adequate tools and means to meet their obligations,” the report stated.
No state is known to want to declare bankruptcy, and some question the wisdom of offering them the ability to do so now, given the jitters in the normally staid municipal bond market.
Slightly more than $25 billion has flowed out of mutual funds that invest in muni bonds in the last two months, according to the Investment Company Institute . Many analysts say they consider a bond default by any state extremely unlikely, but they also say that when politicians take an interest in the bond market, surprises are apt to follow.
Mr. Maco said the mere introduction of a state bankruptcy bill could lead to “some kind of market penalty,” even if it never passed. That “penalty” might be higher borrowing costs for a state and downward pressure on the value of its bonds. Individual bondholders would not realize any losses unless they sold.
But institutional investors in municipal bonds, like insurance companies, are required to keep certain levels of capital. And they might retreat from additional investments . A deeply troubled state could eventually be priced out of the capital markets.
“The precipitating event at G.M. was they were out of cash and had no ability to raise the capital they needed,” said
, the lone Republican on
’s special auto task force, which led G.M. and Chrysler through an unusual restructuring in bankruptcy, financed by the federal government.
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Mr. Wilson, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for New York State comptroller last year, has said he believes that New York and some other states need some type of a financial restructuring.
He noted that G.M. was salvaged only through an administration-led effort that Congress initially resisted, with legislators voting against financial assistance to G.M. in late 2008.
“Now Congress is much more conservative,” he said. “A state shows up and wants cash, Congress says no, and it will probably be at the last minute and it’s a real problem. That’s what I’m concerned about.”
Discussion of a new bankruptcy option for the states appears to have taken off in November, after Mr. Gingrich gave a speech about the country’s big challenges, including government debt and an uncompetitive labor market.
“We just have to be honest and clear about this, and I also hope the House Republicans are going to move a bill in the first month or so of their tenure to create a venue for state bankruptcy,” he said.
A few weeks later, David A. Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania , published an article, “Give States a Way to Go Bankrupt,” in The Weekly Standard. It said thorny constitutional questions were “easily addressed” by making sure states could not be forced into bankruptcy or that federal judges could usurp states’ lawmaking powers.
“I have never had anything I’ve written get as much attention as that piece,” said Mr. Skeel, who said he had since been contacted by Republicans and Democrats whom he declined to name.
Mr. Skeel said it was possible to envision how bankruptcy for states might work by looking at the existing law for local governments. Called Chapter 9, it gives distressed municipalities a period of debt-collection relief, which they can use to restructure their obligations with the help of a bankruptcy judge.
Unfunded pensions become unsecured debts in municipal bankruptcy and may be reduced. And the law makes it easier for a bankrupt city to tear up its labor contracts than for a bankrupt company, said James E. Spiotto, head of the bankruptcy practice at Chapman Cutler in Chicago .
The biggest surprise may await the holders of a state’s general obligation bonds. Though widely considered the strongest credit of any government, they can be treated as unsecured credits, subject to reduction, under Chapter 9.
Mr. Spiotto said he thought bankruptcy court was not a good avenue for troubled states, and he has designed an alternative called the Public Pension Funding Authority. It would have mandatory jurisdiction over states that failed to provide sufficient funding to their workers’ pensions or that were diverting money from essential public services.
“I’ve talked to some people from Congress, and I’m going to talk to some more,” he said. “This effort to talk about Chapter 9, I’m worried about it. I don’t want the states to have to pay higher borrowing costs because of a panic that they might go bankrupt. I don’t think it’s the right thing at all. But it’s the beginning of a dialog.”
A version of this article appears in print on January 21, 2011, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Path Is Sought for States To Escape Debt Burdens. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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The New York Times
Graphic | A Long Start-Up Slump
September 20, 2017
Unemployment has fallen, and the stock market has soared. So why has the economic expansion since the recession been so tame, with sluggish productivity and, at least until recently, anemic wage growth?
Economists say the answer, to some degree, can be found in a start-up slump — a decline in the creation of new businesses — and a growing understanding of what’s behind it.
A total of 414,000 businesses were formed in 2015, the latest year surveyed, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday. It was a slight increase from the previous year, but well below the 558,000 companies given birth in 2006, the year before the recession set in.
“We’re still in a start-up funk,” said Robert Litan, an economist and antitrust lawyer who has studied the issue. “Obviously the recession had a lot to do with it, but then you’re left with the conundrum: Why hasn’t there been any recovery?”
Many economists say the answer could lie in the rising power of the biggest corporations, which they argue is stifling entrepreneurship by making it easier for incumbent businesses to swat away challengers — or else to swallow them before they become a serious threat.
“You’ve got rising market power,” said Marshall Steinbaum, an economist at the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank. “In general, that makes it hard for new businesses to compete with incumbents. Market power is the story that explains everything.”
That argument comes at a potent political moment. Populists on both the left and right have responded to growing public unease about the corporate giants that increasingly dominate their online and offline lives. Polling data from Gallup and other organizations shows a long-running decline in confidence in banks and other big businesses — a concern not likely to abate after high-profile data breaches at Equifax and other companies.
The start-up slump has far-reaching implications. Small businesses in general are often cited as an exemplar of economic dynamism. But it is start-ups — and particularly the small subset of companies that grow quickly — that are key drivers of job creation and innovation, and have historically been a ladder into the middle class for less-educated workers and immigrants.
Perhaps most significant, start-ups play a critical role in making the economy as a whole more productive, as they invent new products and approaches, forcing existing businesses to compete or fall by the wayside.
“Across the decades, young companies are really the heavy hitters and the consistent hitters in terms of job creation,” said Arnobio Morelix, an economist at the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit in Kansas City, Mo., that studies and promotes entrepreneurship.
The start-up decline might defy expectations in the age of Uber and “Shark Tank.” But however counterintuitive, the trend is backed by multiple data sources and numerous economic studies.
In 1980, according to the Census Bureau data, roughly one in eight companies had been founded in the past year; by 2015, that ratio had fallen to fewer than one in 12. The downward trend cuts across regions and industries and, at least since 2000, includes even the beating heart of American entrepreneurship, high tech.
Although the overall slump dates back more than 30 years, economists are most concerned about a more recent trend. In the 1980s and 1990s, the entrepreneurial slowdown was concentrated in sectors such as retail, where corner stores and regional brands were being subsumed by national chains. That trend, though often painful for local communities, wasn’t necessarily a drag on productivity more generally.
Since about 2000, however, the slowdown has spread to parts of the economy more often associated with high-growth entrepreneurship, including the technology sector. That decline has coincided with a period of weak productivity growth in the United States as a whole, a trend that has in turn been implicated in the patterns of fitful wage gains and sluggish economic growth since the recession. Recent research has suggested that the decline in entrepreneurship, and in other measures of business dynamism, is one cause of the prolonged stagnation in productivity.
“We’ve got lots of pieces now that say dynamism has gone down a lot since 2000,” said John Haltiwanger, a University of Maryland economist who has done much of the pioneering work in the field. “Start-ups have gone down a lot since 2000, especially in the high-tech sectors, and there are increasingly strong links to productivity.”
What is behind the decline in entrepreneurship is less clear. Economists and other experts have pointed to a range of possible explanations: The aging of the baby-boom generation has left fewer Americans in their prime business-starting years. The decline of community banks and the collapse of the market for home-equity loans may have made it harder for would-be entrepreneurs to get access to capital. Increased regulation, at both the state and federal levels, may be particularly burdensome for new businesses that lack well-staffed compliance departments. Those and other factors could well play a role, but none can fully explain the decline.
More recently, economists — especially but not exclusively on the left — have begun pointing the finger at big business, and in particular at the handful of companies that increasingly dominate many industries.
Graphic | Big Business, Getting Bigger The share of employees working at large, medium and small companies in the United States.
The evidence is largely circumstantial: The slump in entrepreneurship has coincided with a period of increasing concentration in nearly every major industry. Research from Mr. Haltiwanger and several co-authors has found that the most productive companies are growing more slowly than in the past, a hint that competitive pressures aren’t forcing companies to react as quickly to new innovations.
A recent working paper from economists at Princeton and University College London found that American companies are increasingly able to demand prices well above their costs — which according to standard economic theory would lead new companies to enter the market. Yet that isn’t happening.
“If we’re in an era of excessive profits, in competitive markets we would see record firm entry, but we see the opposite,” said Ian Hathaway, an economist who has studied the issue. That, Mr. Hathaway said, suggests that the market is not truly competitive — that existing companies have found ways to block competitors.
Experts also point to anecdotal examples that suggest that the rise of big businesses could be squelching competition. YouTube, Instagram and hundreds of lower-profile start-ups chose to sell out to industry heavyweights like Google and Facebook rather than try to take them on directly. The tech giants have likewise been accused of using the power of their platforms to favor their own offerings over those of competitors.
Most recently, Amazon openly called for a bidding war among cities for its second headquarters — hardly the kind of demand a new start-up could make. Mr. Morelix said the Amazon example was particularly striking.
“We’re saying that it’s O.K. that they shape how a city charges taxes?” Mr. Morelix said. “And what kind of regulations they have? That should be terrifying to anyone that wants a free market.”
In Washington, where for years politicians have praised small businesses while catering to big ones, issues of competition and entrepreneurship are increasingly drawing bipartisan attention. Several Republican presidential candidates referred to the start-up slump during last year’s primary campaign. Progressive Democrats such as Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have pushed for stricter enforcement of antitrust rules. In a speech in March, Ms. Klobuchar explicitly tied the struggles of entrepreneurs to rising corporate concentration.
In July, entrepreneurs achieved a mark of political relevance: their own advocacy group. The newly formed Center for American Entrepreneurship will conduct research on the importance of new businesses to the economy and push for policies aimed at improving the start-up rate. Its founding president, John Dearie, comes from big business — he was most recently the acting head of the Financial Services Forum, which represents big financial institutions.
“Everybody loves entrepreneurship, but they’re not aware it’s in trouble,” Mr. Dearie said. “If new businesses are the engine of net new job creation, and if new businesses are the engine of innovation, and new business creation is at 30-year lows, that’s a national emergency.”
Follow Ben Casselman on Twitter: @bencasselman
new business plan
I. Executive Summary
A high-level summary of the marketing plan.
II. The Challenge
Brief description of product to be marketed and associated goals, such as sales figures and strategic goals.
III. Situation Analysis
- Value drivers
- Decision process
- Concentration of customer base for particular products
- Subsidiaries, joint ventures, and distributors, etc.
- Political and legal environment
- Economic environment
- Social and cultural environment
- Technological environment
A SWOT analysis of the business environment can be performed by organizing the environmental factors as follows:
- The firm’s internal attributes can be classed as strengths and weaknesses.
- The external environment presents opportunities and threats.
IV. Market Segmentation
Present a description of the market segmentation as follows:
- Percent of sales
- What they want
- How they use product
- Support requirements
- How to reach them
- Price sensitivity
V. Alternative Marketing Strategies
List and discuss the alternatives that were considered before arriving at the recommended strategy. Alternatives might include discontinuing a product, re-branding, positioning as a premium or value product, etc.
VI. Selected Marketing Strategy
Discuss why the strategy was selected, then the marketing mix decisions (4 P’s) of product, price, place (distribution), and promotion.
The product decisions should consider the product’s advantages and how they will be leveraged. Product decisions should include:
Discuss pricing strategy, expected volume, and decisions for the following pricing variables:
- List price
- Payment terms and financing options
- Leasing options
Decision variables include:
- Distribution channels, such as direct, retail, distributors & intermediates
- Advertising, including how much and which media.
- Public relations
- Promotional programs
- Budget; determine break-even point for any additional spending
- Projected results of the promotional programs
VII. Short & Long-Term Projections
The selected strategy’s immediate effects, expected long-term results, and any special actions required to achieve them. This section may include forecasts of revenues and expenses as well as the results of a break-even analysis.
Summarize all of the above.
Calculations of market size, commissions, profit margins, break-even analyses, etc.
Bangs, Jr., David H. The Market Planning Guide: Creating a Plan to Successfully Market Your Business, Products, or Service
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