Book description

Every day, this alluring come-on entices unsuspecting consumers into the depths of the "fringe economy"—a parallel economic universe of pawnshops, payday lenders, check cashers, and other businesses that prey on the financially desperate. These people are duped by clever slogans that promise to alleviate their financial woes and help them gain access to the American Dream. Instead they find themselves in an economic netherworld of spiraling, sky-high interest rates and ever-increasing debt. Once there, the road out is nearly impossible to navigate.

This compelling look at the dark side of the American economy chronicles how these predatory businesses ruthlessly and systematically exploit the poor and middle classes. And it proposes practical reforms that could prevent the ruination of millions of lives.

Table of contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Preface
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. PART I Overview of the Fringe Economy
    1. America’s Changing Fringe Economy
      1. Defining the Fringe Economy
      2. The Scope and Profitability of the Fringe Economy
      3. Mainstream Financial Institutions and the Fringe Economy
    2. Why the Fringe Economy Is Growing
      1. Fringe Economy Customers
      2. The Working Poor
      3. Welfare Reform
      4. Immigration
      5. The Internet
    3. Debt and the Functionally Poor Middle Class
      1. Debt and the Fringe Economy
      2. The Overconsumption Argument
      3. Cultural Change and the Fringe Economy
  7. PART II The Fringe Sectors
    1. The Credit Card Industry
      1. An Overview of the Credit Card Industry
      2. How “Creditworthiness” Is Determined
      3. The Major Players in the Credit Card Industry
      4. How the Credit Card Industry Works
      5. Setting the Hook Early: College Students and Credit Cards
      6. Secured and Unsecured Credit Cards
      7. Preloaded or Stored-Value Debit Cards
      8. Reforming the Credit Card Industry
    2. Storefront Loans: Pawnshops, Payday Loans, and Tax Refund Lenders
      1. Pawnshops: The Historical Neighborhood Banker
      2. Payday Loans
      3. Tax Preparation and Refund Loans
      4. Reforming the Storefront Loan Industry
    3. Alternative Services: Check Cashers, the Rent-to-Own Industry, and Telecommunications
      1. Check Cashers and Auxiliary Financial Services
      2. Rent to Own: The Furniture and Appliance Rental Industry
      3. Prepaid Telecommunications
      4. The Evolving Fringe Economy
      5. Reforming the Alternative Services Sector
    4. Fringe Housing
      1. The Subprime and Predatory Housing Market
      2. Home Mortgage Loans
      3. Refinancing and Home Equity Loans
    5. Real Estate Speculation and Foreclosure
      1. Rent-to-Own Housing
      2. HomeVestors: Bringing Real Estate Speculation to a New Level
      3. The Wannabe Millionaires
      4. Foreclosures
      5. Reforming the Fringe Housing Market
    6. The Fringe Auto Industry
      1. Buying a Used Car
      2. Financing Used Cars
      3. Buy-Here, Pay-Here Lots
      4. High-Cost Auto Insurance
      5. Vehicle Inspections and the Poor
      6. Auto Title Pawns
      7. Reforming the Fringe Auto Sector
    7. The Getting-Out-of-Debt Industry
      1. Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies
      2. Debt Settlement
      3. Debt Dispute and File Segregation
      4. Reining In Runaway Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies
  8. PART III Looking Forward
    1. What Can Be Done to Control the Fringe Economy?
      1. Strategies for Reforming the Fringe Economy
      2. The Future of the Fringe Economy
  9. Glossary
  10. Notes
  11. Index
  12. About the Author
  13. About Berrett-Koehler Publishers
    1. A BK Currents Title
  14. Be Connected

Product information

  • Title: Shortchanged
  • Author(s):
  • Release date: September 2005
  • Publisher(s): Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  • ISBN: 9781605098050