Microfinance in the USA: Predatory lending to the lower middle class

I saw Hugh Sinclair speak and just finished his fabulous book:  Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic: How Microlending Lost Its Way and Betrayed the Poor .   It shows how Kiva, Citi, and a famous VC, Vinod Khosla, among many others have made high returns off of the poorest women in the world with loans with interest rates that are often over 100% per year.

I am now in Georgia with my inlaws and was stunned to see the number of “microfinance” institutions here.   I would say over 15 are in this 1 mile strip occupying the most expensive roadside real-estate.  These are financial services organizations that “serve” the working people of Rome Georgia.

You can take a your own stroll with Google Street viewto see all the signs.   But here are some:



Title Pawn, or Title Loan places take your car, and lease it back to you. A high interest loan secured by your car. Banks are paying about 0% to the fed for money, the poor are paying much more.

Weekly payments are the same as how the microfinance places work in developing countries. The Nobel Peace prize winning approach to poverty eradication has arrived in the USA. Like what you see?

Title Pawn your JetSki.

Smiling beautiful women.

Car Showrooms here are surrounded by barbed wire.

Serving the latin american population, for a fee.

“Buy Here, Pay Here” means you go back weekly to make your payments rather than dealing with a bank.

Renting and Leasing has replaced owning. This place will rent a computer.

No need to go to a bank– used car lots will make the loan for you.

Car sales locations now look like places your car tow lots. Maybe they are car tow lots.

I hear there is a TV show called “Pawn Stars”. Here it a store named the same thing.

Pawn shop? They say they sell computers.

By “Finance”, I think they mean they are not a regulated bank.

Jail Bond places are a rip-off: if you want to get out on bail and can not afford the full bail amount, you pay 10% to one of these places and do not get your money back. Judges price bail so the middle class can just afford this amount.

Title Pawn is when you surrender your car title and then you lease back the car. These are all over the south.

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3 Responses to Microfinance in the USA: Predatory lending to the lower middle class

  1. Pingback: Local Currency that seems to be working in Georgia | Brewster Kahle's Blog

  2. used car says:

    Additionally, you will have to pay for a relatively higher loan rate.
    He writes down the full price of the car and then may write down the “discount” that they are
    giving you just because you’re a great person and they really like you or it’s a “sales bonanza” or
    whatever. The report will show you the car’s history as well as any damages or a salvage title it may have.

  3. Ormond Otvos says:

    Hi Brewster!

    I run a free (donation) wireless Meraki mesh system for Atchison Village (see Wikipedia). I saw an article about your Richmond antenna, went over to see it.
    It’s 1.5 crow-fly miles from us. Could I get a feed for our system? I’m retired, and I need to put the donations to more Merakis instead of bandwidth.

    Keep up your good work!


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