Publication Date

June 2009

Author(s)

Janneke Ratcliffe

Overview

For most Americans, the banking system is a tool to manage our money and build security. Through an array of competitively priced financial products, we can cheaply and easily convert income into assets, make payments, store and invest money, and borrow for consumer purchases, homes, and businesses. To the extent that we flourish, so too do the institutions within this system.

Unfortunately, lower-income consumers operate within a separate and decidedly unequal system. Mainstream providers have little interest in competing for this high frequency/low-balance business, forcing lower-income families to rely on check cashers, payday lenders, pawn shops, automobile-title lenders, high-priced credit cards, tax refund advance lenders, and predatory mortgage lenders.

Center executive director Janneke Ratcliffe examines predatory lending and recommends ways to promote sound financial services for all Americans in this special report of The American Prospect on the U.S. financial crisis.