Five years into a national economic recovery that has further strained the poor working class, an entire industry has grown around handing them a lifeline to the material rewards of middle-class life. Retailers in the post-Great Recession years have become even more likely to work with customers who don’t have the money upfront, instead offering a widening spectrum of payment plans that ultimately cost far more and add to the burdens of life on the economy’s fringes
In some ways, the business harkens back to the subprime boom of the early 2000s, when lenders handed out loans to low-income borrowers with little credit history. But while people in those days were charged perhaps an interest rate of 5 to 10 percent, at rental centers the poor find themselves paying effective annual interest rates of more than 100 percent. With business models such as “rent-to-own,” in which transactions are categorized as leases, stores like Buddy’s can avoid state usury laws and other regulations…
By the next day, the Abbotts had a remade living room, two companion pieces, both of the same blended material, 17 percent leather. The love seat and sofa retailed, together, for about $1,500. Abbott would pay for hers over two years, though she still had paying the option to pay monthly or weekly. The total price if paid weekly: $4,158.
“I’ve never seen a customer base or an economy like this,” Gazzo said in a telephone interview from the company’s headquarters in Tampa.
– From the Washington Post article: Rental America: Why the Poor Pay $4,150 for a $1,500 Sofa
When you bail out financial criminals and predators, you get a criminal and predatory economy. If there’s one clear lesson from the 2008 crisis and its aftermath, that should be it.
Earlier this week, I published an article titled, Land of the Debt Serf – How “Auto Title Loan” Companies are Ruthlessly Preying on America’s Growing Underclass. In it, we saw how efficiently the Fed’s 0% interest rate policy trickles down to the poor. In fact, preying on the poor for profits has been one America’s most vibrant business models since the “recovery” took hold. We learned that:
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