Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy by Howard Karger
By Howard Karger
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Extra resources for Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy
Unlike most fringe economy sectors, Dollar lost $28 million in 2004. 8 In 1985 there were 4,500 pawnshops in the United States; by 2000 that number had risen to 14,000, including five publicly traded chains. 13 Cash America is the largest pawnshop chain, with 750 total locations in 17 states. It also offers payday loans through Cash America Payday Advance stores. In addition, Cash America provides payday loans and check cashing through Cashland and Mr. Payroll stores. In 2003 Cash America had revenues of almost $438 million, with a net income of $30 million.
Besides, if a transaction seems unaffordable, the down payment, interest rate, or terms can be adjusted to make it seem manageable, at least in the short run. While the fringe economy makes goods and services available to consumers who can’t otherwise afford them, it also traps them in a cycle of debt. The fringe economy is an unforgiving system that claims to give the poor and credit-challenged relief and a second chance. On the contrary, vulnerable customers are dragged deeper into a quagmire of debt.
4 Under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA), a mortgage is considered high interest if the annual percentage rate (APR) is 8 points (8%) for first mortgages and 10 points for subsequent loans above the rate of return on Treasury securities for the same period, or if the fees and points at closing are 8% or more of the loan amount. This definition of a high-cost loan would be a bargain for the many fringe economy customers whose interest rates are measured in the hundreds of percent.