Broke USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.—How the Working Poor Became Big Business

Gary Rivlin, Author Harper Business 26.99 (346p) ISBN 978-0-06-173321-5
Journalist Rivlin (Fire on the Prairie) offers a superb exposé of the “poverty business”—the flock of companies that cater to (and prey on) the working poor. For people living paycheck to paycheck and sometimes falling behind with rent, car payments, and grocery bills, “fringe financing” and the ubiquitous Rent-A-Centers, Jackson Hewitt, payday lenders, pawnshops, and check cashers—may seem like their only safety net. These businesses may tout themselves as a necessary service and force for economic development in low-income communities, but Rivlin reveals their dark underbelly: punishing rates of interest and customer service reps explicitly trained to mislead customers who appear “gullible.” He delves into the effect of financial deregulation on “fringe financing,” predatory subprime lending, and the major players in this unsavory world, including Allan Jones, a debt collector, worth $200 million, and the activists and advocates like Bill Brennan who’ve faced them down in the courts. A timely, important, and deeply disturbing look at the cycle of debt of the nation’s most vulnerable. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/26/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-199794-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-206210-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-204939-1
Paperback - 358 pages - 978-0-06-173320-8
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