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Bankruptcy filings fall 14%, on track for pre-2008 levels

Bankruptcy filings fall 14%, on track for pre-2008 levels
Fewer American consumers and companies are filing for bankruptcy in the U.S.. (Susana Gonzalez / Bloomberg)

Tepid consumer spending has an upside: Bankruptcy filings in the U.S. are down 14% in the first half of the year, helped along by record-low interest rates and a new culture of belt-tightening.

The first half of 2012 saw 632,130 new filings, according to a report from the American Bankruptcy Institute and Epiq Systems Inc., which manages bankruptcy procedures for filers.

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Over the period, 601,184 consumers filed for bankruptcy, a 13% slide from the year earlier. The 30,946 businesses that filed for bankruptcy represent a 22% decline.

In June alone, nearly 100,000 bankruptcy filings were recorded — or about 3,302 a day — but that's down 18% from the same month in 2011.

"We are on pace for perhaps the lowest total new bankruptcies since before the financial crisis in 2008," said Samuel J. Gerdano, executive director of the bankruptcy institute, in a statement.

Major bankruptcies so far this year include filings from Eastman Kodak Co., Mammoth Lakes and “Curious George” publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In Nevada, 7 in 1,000 people filed for bankruptcy. Other states with high bankruptcy rates include Tennessee, Georgia, Utah and Alabama.

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