53 posts categorized "Underbanked/Fringe Banking"

Hawkins' Fringe Banking Premise is that Payday and Title Loans are Short-term: If Only it Were True

posted by Nathalie Martin

Paydaylendingphoto Although I disagree with the starting point of the paper Katie wrote about yesterday, Fringe Banking by Professor Jim Hawkins, and thus disagree with most of Professor Hawkins’ conclusions, I have great respect for him and am grateful that his paper is part of the national discourse on this topic. I deal with very poor people regularly and know some have no place else to go besides payday or title lenders when they need cash. Thus, I try to keep an open mind that on some level products like payday loans could serve some utility in the world, if they were truly used sparingly and for emergencies only. And if there were no rollovers and people could not use 10 or 12 of them at a time. In other words, if they worked the way Professor Hawkins says they do.

Jim’s paper gets a valuable idea out there, but the facts about how these products are really used, and how they are marketed, explain why these loan products create more problems than they solve. My own curbside data of payday use (read the long version or the short version) suggest that Professor Hawkins’ starting point, that these loans are designed to be short term and thus to keep people out of a cycle of debt, is out of synch with the reality of either borrowing habits or lender business plans. Still, his idea does start a conversation, and in this field the two sides do not talk. Period. The product designs he speaks of, if actually followed in practice, would make this type of lending much less abusive. I might even like these products.

Continue reading "Hawkins' Fringe Banking Premise is that Payday and Title Loans are Short-term: If Only it Were True" »

Fringe Banking and Financial Distress: Argument and Critique

posted by Katie Porter

Today at The Conglomerate Blog, there is an online workshop of former Credit Slips guestblogger Jim Hawkins' paper, Regulating at the Fringe: Reexamining the Relationship between Fringe Banking and Financial Distress. Jim shared some of his thoughts on what he claims is the "dubious" relationship between fringe banking and financial distress in some of his Credit Slips posts.

I found Jim's paper to be provocative and I've posted a critique of his approach at The Comglomerate as one of their invited commenters. I think Jim's definition of financial distress as too many dollars of debt is unduly narrow and that it is only by using that definition can be claim to debunk the relationship between fringe banking and financial distress--primarily by arguing that because these are small dollar loans they can't really be much of a problem. I also think Jim tends to overstate the extent to which the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection was justified by concern about financial distress. I think its primary focus is on correcting malfunctions in markets caused by misinformation or deception. Jim himself seems open to intervention in fringe banking on that basis, as he concludes his paper by exploring rationales other than financial distress might support regulation. Check out The Conglomerate blog to join the conversation about this topic and to see the thoughts of other invited commentators: David Zaring, Larry Garvin, and Todd Zwyicki.

Local Currencies

posted by Bob Lawless

Schrute_buckOne moment that everyone seems to remember from The Office television show is the creation of Schrute Bucks, a motivational tool created by Dwight Schrute in his few moments of power as office manager. Any worker who accumulated 1,000 Schrute Bucks was entitled to five extra minutes of lunch break.

In the most recent issue of American Banker, Sara Lepro has a fascinating article on the growth of local currencies. Hardly worthless Schrute bucks, these currencies generally allow local residents to purchase them at a discount and then redeem them for full face value at local merchants. The idea is that local currencies promote local commerce, but Lepro points out their use has been growing in today's climate of mistrust against large financial institutions. The article will interest many Credit Slips visitors.

Continue reading "Local Currencies" »


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