After years of arguing that expanded credit is critical for the poor, and attacking banks for "red-lining" poor and minority districts, the liberal-left of this country has reversed directions, and has decided that the poor can't handle credit.
No matter how much folks want to paint the recent mortgage problem as some sort of fraud perptrated on homeowners, the fact of the matter is that in large part, lenders lowered their income standards and a lot of those folks now can't pay. While we have yet to see any specific legislation beyond bailouts, it is impossible for me to imagine any reaction-regulation that does not have the consequence (intended or not) of restricting credit to the poor.
But these restrictions are not limited to the housing market. Many states, for example, are cracking down and even outright banning payday loan companies, often the last resort (legal) credit source before people turn to the loansharks. First in Ohio (via Mises Blog)
If Ohio's 1,600 payday-lending stores want to continue operating past this fall, it
appears they will have to find something else to offer besides payday loans.
A hotly debated bill that effectively would spell the end of the short-term,
high-interest payday-lending industry in Ohio sailed through the Ohio Senate yesterday despite
pleas from lenders that their stores would close and 6,000 employees would be put out of work.
The Senate was unable to find a compromise that both satisfied payday lenders and
eliminated the debt trap that bill supporters said forced too many borrowers to take out new loans
to pay for old ones. So it did what the House did last month: dropped the hammer.
"I think everybody said there is just no way to redeem this product. It's
fundamentally flawed," Bill Faith, a leader of the Ohio Coalition for Responsible Lending, said of
the twoweek loans. The industry "drew a line in the sand, and the legislature kicked the line aside
and said we're done with this toxic product."
And perhaps soon in Arizona. Yes, the interest rates are astonishing, though the dollars involved are seldom huge for the short life and small size of the loan. And, as an extra added bonus, Tony Soprano does not send someone to break your legs if you don't pay (the Sopranos being the only alternative provider once payday loan companies are illegal).
So, for those of you oppose payday loans, you are welcome to comment below about what a bad idea they are. However, I challenge folks to criticize payday loans without simultaneously implicitly expressing disdain for the intelligence of payday loan customers, or trumpeting your ability to make better decisions for payday loan customers than they can make for themselves.
However, for those who think they are ever so much smarter than payday loan customers, who are charged a lot of money for small liquidity boosts, consider this: Let's say you take out $40 each week from an ATM to keep you liquid and that the ATM fee is $1.50. You are therefore spending $1.50 or 3.75% for a one week liquidity boost of $40, which you must again refresh next week. Annualized, you are effectively paying 195% to get liquid with your own money. For this kind of vig, at least payday loan customers are getting the use of someone else's money.