Playing chess with bankruptcy

By Felix Salmon
September 27, 2009
Kent Swig's case, the number seems to be $28 million:

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Threatening to file for bankruptcy is a good way to get the attention of your lenders — it makes them that much more likely to agree to restructure your debts, just because bankruptcies are expensive, time-consuming, and unpredictable things. But how much money do you need to owe before your lenders will take you that seriously? In Kent Swig’s case, the number seems to be $28 million:

Developer Kent Swig is close to filing personal bankruptcy because he can’t afford to pay a recent $28 million judgment on his defaulted Sheffield57 condo conversion project in Midtown.

“We are exploring all options,” one of Swig’s advisers told The Post. “No one wants to do it but it’s certainly a play on the chessboard that we are considering at this time.”

I think most people are likely to be a little disgusted, when reading such a quote, that an extremely wealthy man like Kent Swig would cavalierly consider bankruptcy to be little more than “a play on the chessboard”. How come he gets to play chess with bankruptcy filings, when for the rest of us such a filing is ruinous in many ways? It’s just another way that the rich are different from you and me — and it reinforces my belief in some kind of wealth tax.

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