News / USA

In Bankruptcy, Detroit Cedes Control, Gains a Respite

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr addresses the media as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder listens during a news conference about filing bankruptcy for the city of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan, July 19, 2013.
Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr addresses the media as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder listens during a news conference about filing bankruptcy for the city of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan, July 19, 2013.
VOA News
By filing for bankruptcy, debt-ridden Detroit is buying itself some time to fix its finances, but it also is giving up financial control of its government and handing it to a federal judge.

Law professor Peter Henning at Wayne State University in Michigan said the judge, not the city's elected officials, will be making important decisions about the city's future.
 
"Really, what it is, it's a watershed moment because no longer is it just the emergency manager and the various constituencies in the city. Now it's under the power of the federal judge, and so the decision-making is really out of the control of the people who had a say in the process before," Henning said. "Now what you're talking about is a federal bankruptcy judge deciding who's going to get paid and how much they're going to get paid."

Watch related video by Mil Arcega:

Experts: Bankruptcy May Give Detroit Chance to Start Freshi
X
July 20, 2013 2:40 AM
Detroit, once the prosperous home of the U.S. auto industry, has gone bankrupt. It is the largest city in U.S. history to seek protection from creditors while it negotiates a plan to reorganize. Detroit's troubles reflect the loss of manufacturing jobs and much of its population and tax base. Despite legal wrangling over the filing, experts look at how Detroit's bankruptcy compares with other financially troubled municipalities. Mil Arcega has more for VOA.

Detroit calls itself the Motor City, the home of the American auto industry. But as Americans fell in love with foreign auto imports from Japan and Germany over the last 30 years, Detroit declined. Its population plummeted over several decades and many of its neighborhoods collapsed in decay and abandonment.

As the city's influence as an industrial center waned over the last half century, its elected officials mismanaged the local government, with one of its mayors sent to prison in a sex scandal. Now the city's debt stands at $18 billion or more.

A business and law professor at the University of Michigan, Erik Gordon, told VOA that the city is now paying for its misdeeds. "We had a mayor who was sent to jail, was sent back to jail. We had a city council that for many years was composed mostly of clowns," he noted. "We had a city that was living in fantasyland and that catches up with you. And it caught up with Detroit."

He said American automakers totally misread the allure of foreign-made cars, which over time diminished the city's standing as a symbol of American industrial muscle.

"I can remember when the first cars came over from Japan, and the Detroit automakers and the people in Detroit called those cars rice runners and said nobody will ever buy them," explained Gordon. "You know, times change and you have to face up and you have to compete. Detroit during the best of times got sort of fat and lazy and that's how you fall behind."

The Michigan academic said that by filing bankruptcy, the city will gain time to reassess its finances, although many creditors are unlikely to be paid anything close to what they are owed.

"The idea behind bankruptcy in America is a fresh start. So if you have a city or a company that you think is viable, that you think could go forward if only you get a little bit of a fresh start, you go into bankruptcy with a court-supervised procedure, actually specialized courts, bankruptcy courts, that act as referee, with special powers to get things settled, including some interesting powers to tell debtors that you may be owed $100, but you're only going to get $10," said Gordon.

He said he expects that Detroit will eventually emerge from bankruptcy as a renewed city focusing on the growth of technology businesses and less on its industrial past.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 20, 2013 9:08 PM
I think if GM had pruduced more cars in Detroit and hired local workers, Detroid would have not been bunkrupted. Toyota is located in Nagoya city and a lot of citizens work for its car industries. Toyota is makng efforts to produce car parts inside Japan as much as possible eventhough it is expensive in wages compared with oversea production.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid