Skip to comments.Elizabeth Warren's Crusade to Nationalize Payday Lending Squeezes Native American Tribes
Posted on 03/10/2014 5:35:28 AM PDT by Kaslin
Recently, two seemingly unrelated things happened in the so-called payday lending world. First, Senator Elizabeth Warren began trumpeting a plan to offer short-term lending and banking services through the United States Postal Service. Then Native American Tribes sued New York's Superintendent of Financial Services for illegally cutting them off from offering their own online lending services. Since claiming the mantle of Native American, its not surprising that Warren hasnt gone on record supporting Ben Lawskys persecution of the tribes. However, the agency she founded and staffed, the CFPB, filed an amicus brief supporting him.
Warren claims the Post Office could offer alternative banking services profitably. But for that to be possible, it would need a monopoly. It appears thats exactly what Warren and Lawsky are trying to achieve. However, without a change in federal law, they will fail. And luckily so, because if they could succeed, the result would be ruinous not just to Native American tribes, but to the millions of customers who rely on them for short-term loans.
Native American tribes have gotten into online lending for the same as the reason Warren uses to justify getting the Post Office into the game. From her Huffington Post op-ed:
[M]ore than a quarter of all households have no checking or savings account and are underserved by the banking system. Collectively, these households spent about $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees for non-bank financial services like payday loans and check cashing, which works out to an average of $2,412 per household. That means the average underserved household spends roughly 10 percent of its annual income on interest and fees -- about the same amount they spend on food.
Warren fails to mention the impact interest-rate regulations have had on keeping people locked out of banking services. New Yorks usury laws cap interest rates at 25% interest on small, unsecured loans for banks and 16% for non-bank institutions. Between interest rate caps and regulatory compliance costs, its simply impossible to profitably lend to certain populations at these rates because of their higher risk.
Rates like 1,095%, which some online lenders charge, sound high. But its important to remember that these loans are generally only held for about two weeks, so the actual money spent on interest is fairly trivial, and clearly favorable to the person taking out the loan.
According to a recent study, 41% of American households reported using what the agency calls alternative financial services, including online lenders in 2011. Its interesting that while 75% of American can access the default banking system, 41% are choosing to pay higher interest rates to use the alternatives. And these arent the people you might have in mind when you think about brick-and-mortar payday lending. Users of online lenders tend to be middle-class and well-educated.
So what are New Yorkers doing now that they no longer have access to online lending? Theyre taking advantage of payday loans, going to their friends and family, and, most troublingly, relying on black-market alternatives. Thats what happened when Virginia cracked down on alternative financial services. Kicking alternative lenders out of the game doesnt force traditional banks to work with people they previously excluded. And it doesnt cause people to change their spending patterns so they no longer need short-term loans. It only further limits their white-market options for getting quick cash.
At least it will until Lawsky loses the lawsuit. Native American Tribes are not subject to state regulations, so Lawsky had zero authority to order them, along with 31 online lenders, to stop lending in New York, or to send a letter to 117 banks asking them to cut off their access to electronic payments systems.
States and tribes do not have a relationship with each other, explains Dr. Katherine Spilde. She is a Cultural Anthropologist and professor who has spent the past 20 years working with tribes on economic development. States dont understand the full weight of tribal sovereignty.
Only the U.S. Congress can regulate tribes, according to Executive Director of the Native American Financial Services Association, Barry Brandon. We wrote a letter to Lawsky with our concern about his actions, requesting a meeting, Brandon said during a telephone press conference. We received no response from him.
States can, however, force non-tribe online lenders to comply with regulations capping interest rates. This is exactly what would be necessary to realize Warrens Post Office prediction. If the Postal Service offered basic banking services... then it could provide affordable financial services for underserved families, and, at the same time, shore up its own financial footing, Warren claims. But how?
If banks cant profitably lend to underserved families, how could USPS? The only possible way this plan could work is if regulators actually succeeded in putting all alternative lenders out of business. This would force American families to choose between the loan sharks and the Post Office. This would be a tragedy for the millions of Americans who rely on payday and online lenders. And it would devastate Native American tribes.
If Elizabeth Warren wants to try to use the Post Office to offer another banking option, its ill-advised, but acceptable. Why anyone would want to make cashing checks and borrowing money as fast, up-to-date, pain-free and convenient as a trip to the Post Office is baffling. Despite a legally mandated monopoly on non-urgent letter delivery and direct shipping to U.S. Mail boxes, the USPS is broke.
But the truth is far more sinister. Warren is supporting state regulators in order to give the Post Office its next monopoly, this time over alternative banking services. This time, instead of barring private entities from delivering non-urgent letters, shes using state regulations to make it impossible to lend to high-risk families profitably.
Vigorous enforcement of state-mandated interest-rate caps would put alternative lenders out of business, and effectively nationalize alternative banking. This will force American families to choose between loan sharks and the Post Office. Thankfully, without a change to national law, the plan will fail. However, state regulators could succeed in putting all non-tribe alternative banking providers out of business. Creating another option for payday lending customers is a worthy goal. But using state regulations to give this option a monopoly hurts everyone.
I’m not sure exactly what the current administration’s biggest bugaboo is with this industry, but they sure seem hellbent on destroying it.
Their hatred is probably race-based. Most of those who use payday lenders are black, and the next biggest group are hispanic.
I lost a great job providing data analysis for this industry, and it’ll be a while in forgiving them and those who voted for them because of it.
Funny thing, these “payday loans” ...
The Mafia made pretty goodd money from what was then called “loan sharking” their customers.
And now, the Fed’s (democrats all) want to do the same thing....
Only a liberal airhead would think a half baked idea like this would work.
Let’s get the government into lending. It has worked so well with the student loan program.
She must be a self-loathing faux Indian.
I actually listened to an interview with a guy that worked at a management level within a payday loan company. It was interesting to see his perspective, and I tend to agree with it. They are a bit like a bail bondsman in that what they do is risky and so they charge a lot to make up for the bad risks. Kinda like items in a chain store location in a “bad” neighborhood are more expensive than in fancy neighborhoods because of all the shoplifting.
But they offer a service that does help some people. It also proves the point of a phrase I coined a few years ago: It is very expensive to be poor in the US.
But nationalize them? That is absurd.
The worse thing a payday lender could do was turn someone over to collections, which they could ignore with impunity.
The mafia would break their knees.
One of the things I heard postulated is that the payday customers were people with jobs (a requirement to get the loan) who needed some cash to get through a short time,
and the left wanted them to turn to the government instead of a lender, in order to get them hooked on entitlements.
Payday loans are just a way to get around laws against obscene amounts of interest. You are basically passing laws to protect people from their own stupidity.
By the way - what would you charge in interest to a customer base with a demonstrable 35% default rate?
Ping to link at 11.
Sowell’s with you.
I wouldn’t lend money to them. Duh.
Another angle on this: Off the grid anonymity is offered by these places.
I used a “prepper” type guy who had a “fathers advocacy” legal firm to get custody of my youngest daughter. GREAT service and cost me less than a thousand bucks. But one of the checks I wrote him bounced and I got a call from a payday loan place next to SeaTac airport. This is interesting because his business was 30 miles north of there.
It turns out his is a very interesting story. It goes like this:
He has no checking account and no credit cards but makes good money. He owns his own small office building. He takes payment only in cash and checks. But he has a deal with the payday loans place to be sort of his bank for cashing all his checks and he gets a significant reduction in their standard rate for this. He simply takes all the checks people like me pay him and turns them into cash there.
And it is by the airport for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is the travelling he does.
Talk about off the financial grid. And I leave you to meditate on the benefits and disadvantages of such a thing. It’s quite a fascinating mental exercise.
BTW, this was in the late 90’s. I’m sure the cash thing is more difficult since 9/11. In fact, it almost makes one want to consider being a truther. Almost.
Thus removing an option for them, as Sowell states.
They usually don’t NEED the option. They just can’t manage money. The payday option just worsens the problem.
Claim to be an Indian to further your career, and then screw the Indians. Now, she’ll blame the Republicans. The liberal ideology is this.....”Money makes the world go ‘round!”
We used to be bombarded with commercials from some Indian outfit called Western Sky, which charged 3 and 4 digit interest rates for their loans. I’m not a fan of Warren but if she can put outfits like that out of business then more power to her.
The payday option just worsens the problem.
But it’s none of our business (or the government’s) unless they are not adult citizens. “They” have the same rights to privacy and to make both good and bad decisions as us “non-poor” people. And to be frank, a lot of it is that they are young and learn a valuable lesson from the experience of paying for their money, to eventually become responsible adults.
The mafia changed less than these Indian tribe sites.
41% of families use these services - more than those below the poverty level. It's very expensive to be irresponsible in this country.
You are talking about the same government that protects us from high interest rates. The Libertarian argument has already passed.
41% of families use these services - more than those below the poverty level. It’s very expensive to be irresponsible in this country.
You are talking about the same government that protects us from high interest rates. The Libertarian argument has already passed.
The government wants to take over payday lending for the same reason they took over student loans: to make money.
But nationalize them? That is absurd.”””
How about this being a trial balloon that is a prelude to nationalizing ALL the banks & Credit Unions?
A few weeks ago, there was talk about merging ALL the Credit Unions into banks.
Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al, want all the PRIVATE pension funds in the USA 9into their own hands. 401’s, Keogh’s, Roth IRA’s, and other IRA’s are their targets. They won’t touch a union pension or a municipal type pension.
Review the years since Carter started the Community Reinvestment Act.
He pushed the banks to loan money ‘for a home of their own’ to people who didn’t qualify for purchasing a T-shirt on payments.
We all know exactly where that led. Most of us won’t live long enough to get back the equity we had in our properties.
Four digit interest loans? Wow, talk about loan sharks
Yes, and if the government keeps rewarding irresponsibility we're going to get more and more of it.
Yes, and if the government keeps rewarding irresponsibility we’re going to get more and more of it.
I will. Mine has doubled since I bought it....according to my tax statement.
It will be the Congressional Post Office scandal on a national scale. It will rank right up there with SSDI on the "most abused federal handout" list.