Who Should Pay for Bankruptcy Costs?
The fees of professionals (financial advisors, lawyers, accountants) are a substantial fraction of bankruptcy costs. Scholars have considered how best to reduce these costs but have not considered how they should be allocated among creditors. Creditors can spend redistributionally (to violate or uphold absolute priority) or productively (to increase the value of the bankrupt firm). An efficient bankruptcy cost allocation scheme should discourage redistributional and encourage productive creditor spending. We consider the desirability of various allocation schemes in a model in which senior and junior creditors can engage in both types of spending. We show that (1) the current U.S. cost allocation system is unsatisfactory because the scheme partially reimburses junior expenses for professionals but does not reimburse senior expenses and (2) a cost allocation scheme that approaches the first-best solution and is implementable would delegate the issue of professionalsâ€™ cost reimbursement to the debtor in possession.
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