Quick Cash: The Story of the Loan Shark

Overview

Loan sharks may conjure up an image of tough guys in fedoras looking to make a profit off of desperate people in dire financial straits, but in reality, lenders who advance small sums of cash at high interest rates until payday existed long before organized crime entered the trade. Today the businesses that fill this niche in the credit market prefer the name ‘payday lenders’ rather than loan sharks, but most large cities are still a hotbed of usurious lending, and the landscapes are dotted with their inviting ...

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Overview

Loan sharks may conjure up an image of tough guys in fedoras looking to make a profit off of desperate people in dire financial straits, but in reality, lenders who advance small sums of cash at high interest rates until payday existed long before organized crime entered the trade. Today the businesses that fill this niche in the credit market prefer the name ‘payday lenders’ rather than loan sharks, but most large cities are still a hotbed of usurious lending, and the landscapes are dotted with their inviting and brightly colored storefronts. Despite their more respectable name, these predatory lenders have endured through regulation, prohibition, and the rise and fall of the mob since the late 1800s.

In this intriguing and accessible book, Mayer aptly assesses the consequences of high-interest lending—both for the people who borrow at such steep prices and for society as a whole. He argues that although some consumers gain from borrowing at high rates, payday lending in its modern form consistently traps many of the wage earners who pawn their postdated checks, leaving them worse off than they were before. Because payday lending regulations vary widely throughout the country, Mayer chose to focus his story on Chicago, a city that serves as a fine representative of the legacy of loan sharking. Quick Cash will engage policy analysts, economists, and regional historians, as wells as general readers interested in the fascinating story behind these unscrupulous lending operations that feed off America’s current tough economic times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The subject is important, the research exhaustive, the argument compelling, the writing is brisk and clear…. Quick Cash is a major contribution to public discussions of subprime lending and borrowing. It deserves to be on the reading list of everyone who cares about recent developments in lending and borrowing…. Mayer establishes himself as the expert on the subject of subprime consumer credit, especially payday lending.”—Lendol Calder, Augustana College

“The early historical chapters, which focus on American in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, are a tour de force in original source material and factual documentation. There is not currently a book or scholarly article that so carefully compiles an American historical record of triple digit interest rate consumer finance. This book will become an invaluable source for generations of policy makers and historians to come. After all, this policy problem is not going away. The problem will endure, and this book will endure with it.”—Christopher Peterson, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Library Journal
While popular culture has portrayed the loan shark as a Mafia associate using strong-arm tactics on his clients, Mayer's book gives us a historical portrait of these predatory lenders, who were at work long before the Mafia was involved. Mayer (political science, Loyola Univ.) traces high-interest lending from the late 19th century through the latest financial crisis. While the book focuses on Chicago, it does reference lending practices throughout the South and New York City. Chapters delve into the social issues of the early 20th century that created a market for these high-interest loans, the various government policies that tried to regulate the lenders, and the legal and economic changes that gave rise to the current methods of payday lending since the 1980s. VERDICT Mayer is an authority on the subject and has created an original and multidisciplinary look at subprime lending in the United States that is accessible to a wide variety of readers, including students and professionals. Recommended.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875804309
  • Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 301
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Mayer is a professor of political science at Loyola University. He holds a Ph.D. in political theory from Princeton University.

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