I have just updated news room with all our sites and changes made over last 12 months. This is where on the cutting room floor, our news and views about the news will be made.
As anyone who knows me – l have slowly built a group of sites all listed below with links to view, that represent as broad range of topics as possible.
This site, blog or room as it will be known is simply my news, views and feelings and thoughts as an editor.
I have also spoken to a number of my friends and followers and asked if they would like to join the news team, either regularly or as featured writers. I feel honoured by their response to wanting to be part.
Some and l say some are amazing writers, and some are able to make words jump off the page and say read me. These writers do not consider themselves great in their own right. They are humble and write from their heart their feelings, thoughts and musings about the world.
So today this day l open the news room to the world and say welcome to my friends and writers and of course you all who one day hopefully enjoy reading our words as much as we enjoyed writing them.
With kindest best wishes and love to you all and thank you for following my news.
#AceDebtNews says this was recently sent to my news desk and relates to as they call it “doozy of a working paper “ available to download as PDF if you are willing to pay, basically l thought the following extract from the Washing Posts Wonk Blog says what is really important on austerity, as these two eminently qualified people state their own opinions on austerity of this government!
: This is a link to a Money Week Video – Their intention being to sign you up for their magazine – but if time it is well worth a watch – beware you cannot stop it or roll-back just leave and close tab! This video long and drawn out as it is trying to put fear in us to invest wisely, with them of course and through their financial advisers advice even though they do not state this outright. Also going to the extent of adding a disclaimer to their video, to take independent advice! Also states from their point of view that this country is bankrupt and has been for a very long time! http://pro.moneyweek.com/myk-eob-tpr123/EMYKP909/?a=5&o=128929&s=133565&u=75227&l=428374&r=MC&g=0&h=true
Then thirdly this simple report in theNew Statesman that our Chancellor of the Exchequer argues it is nothing to do with his policies, as so many Chancellors have done before over the last 40 years! Then pray tell me whose fault is it ,we have debts totalling X and as a percentage of our GDP they are Y and that we will never repay them as they cost Z . My why not putting figures for XYZ is simple: figures lie and so do politicians! We do not need a statement of what we owe, but we need a solution of what we owe, does anyone have this solution, well of course not, or if they do, then pray tell us all, do it for nothing and admit the truth!
Well read it all if you like and then leave your comments or share:
The Chancellor‘s claim that “the pace of fiscal consolidation has not changed” is not supported by any of the available data.
The Chancellor does not deny that growth has been much weaker than forecast, although it’s worth repeating the scale of this under-performance. In June 2010, the Office of Budget Responsibility predicted that by now the economy would be about 7 per cent larger, driven by a sharp rise in business investment and exports, while the deficit would have fallen by two-thirds. What has actually happened? In fact, GDP has grown at less than a third of that rate, business investment has fallen, and the path of deficit reduction bears no resemblance at all to the original projections (which is, as I’ll elaborate below, a good thing).
But, the Chancellor argues, this under-performance has nothing to do with fiscal policy:
So as with all my articles l will give you my very simple understanding of all that has to be done in 5 very simple lines, l call this my `Five Steps to Becoming Debt Free’ l realise only a few will read it or even understand it, but most of all will never ever agree to it, WHY – simply wanton-greed and this will prevail until people either have nothing, or until they realise that wanting more will lead them into a pit of despair they will never ever get out of …….
#AceFinanceNews says according (Reuters) – Several large U.S. banks have set aside extra money to pay for potential legal costs in part because of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s massive $13 billion settlement with U.S. authorities over bad mortgages, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
The size of the JPMorgan settlement, which the government called the largest in U.S. history, led many banks to realize that the cost of resolving some of their own legal problems was likely to be higher than they had initially believed, the sources said.
Justice Department officials have said in public statements they want to use the JPMorgan settlement as a template for deals with other banks.
Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley all added hundreds of millions of dollars to funds they have set aside to pay for the cost of litigation, including legal fees, fines and settlements. All four banks are facing mortgage-related investigations by federal prosecutors located in different parts of the country.
The increase in such funds impacted the fourth quarter results of the banks published this week, surprising many analysts.
As the Rev. Susan McCann stood outside a public library in Springfield, Mo., last year, she did her best to persuade passers-by to sign an initiative to ban high-cost payday loans. But it was difficult to keep her composure, she remembers. A man was shouting in her face.
He and several others had been paid to try to prevent people from signing. “Every time I tried to speak to somebody,” she recalls, “they would scream, ‘Liar! Liar! Liar! Don’t listen to her!'”
Such confrontations, repeated across the state, exposed something that rarely comes into view so vividly: the high-cost lending industry’s ferocious effort to stay legal and stay in business.
Outrage over payday loans, which trap millions of Americans in debt and are the best-known type of high-cost loans, has led to dozens of state laws aimed at stamping out abuses. But the industry has proved extremely resilient. In at least 39 states, lenders offering payday or other loans still charge annual rates of 100 percent or more. Sometimes, rates exceed 1,000 percent.
Last year, activists in Missouri launched a ballot initiative to cap the rate for loans at 36 percent. The story of the ensuing fight illuminates the industry’s tactics, which included lobbying state legislators and contributing lavishly to their campaigns; a vigorous and, opponents charge, underhanded campaign to derail the ballot initiative; and a sophisticated and well-funded outreach effort designed to convince African-Americans to support high-cost lending.
Industry representatives say they are compelled to oppose initiatives like the one in Missouri. Such efforts, they say, would deny consumers what may be their best or even only option for a loan.
The issue caught the attention of Democrat Mary Still, who won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 2008 and immediately sponsored a bill to limit high-cost loans. She had reason for optimism: The new governor, Jay Nixon, a Democrat, supported reform.
The problem was the legislature. During the 2010 election cycle alone, payday lenders contributed $371,000 to lawmakers and political committees, according to a report by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Public Campaign, which focuses on campaign reform. The lenders hired high-profile lobbyists, and Still became accustomed to their visits. But they hardly needed to worry about the House Financial Institutions Committee, through which a reform bill would need to pass. One of the lawmakers leading the committee, Don Wells, owned a payday loan store, Kwik Kash. He could not be reached for comment.
Eventually, after two years of frustration, Still and others were ready to try another route. “Absolutely, it was going to have to take a vote of the people,” she said. “The legislature had been bought and paid for.”
A coalition of faith groups, community organizations and labor unions decided to put forward the ballot initiative to cap rates at 36 percent. The main hurdle was collecting the required total of a little more than 95,000 signatures. If the initiative’s supporters could do that, they felt confident the lending initiative would pass.
But even before the signature drive began, the lending industry girded for battle.
In the summer of 2011, a new organization, Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity (MECO), appeared. Although it was devoted to defeating the payday measure, the group kept its backers secret. The sole donor was another organization, Missourians for Responsible Government, headed by a conservative consultant, Patrick Tuohey. Because Missourians for Responsible Government is organized under the 501(c)(4) section of the tax code, it does not have to report its donors. Tuohey did not respond to requests for comment.
Still, there are strong clues about the source of the $2.8 million Missourians for Responsible Government delivered to MECO over the course of the battle.
Payday lender QC Holdings declared in a 2012 filing that it had spent “substantial amounts” to defeat the Missouri initiative. QC, which mostly does business as Quik Cash (not to be confused with Kwik Kash), has 101 outlets in Missouri. In 2012, one-third of the company’s profits came from the state, twice as much as from California, its second-most profitable state. If the initiative got to voters, the company was afraid of the outcome: “ballot initiatives are more susceptible to emotion” than lawmakers’ deliberations, it said in an annual filing. And if the initiative passed, it would be catastrophic, likely forcing the company to default on its loans and halt dividend payments on its common stock, the company declared.
In late 2012, QC and other major payday lenders, including Cash America and Check into Cash, contributed $88,000 to a group called Freedom PAC. MECO and Freedom PAC shared the same treasurer and received funds from the same 501(c)(4). Freedom PAC spent $79,000 on ads against Still in her 2012 losing bid for a state senate seat, state records show.
MECO’s first major step was to back three lawsuits against the ballot initiative. If any one of the suits were successful, the initiative would be kept off the ballot regardless of how many citizens had signed petitions in support.
Threatening letters and decoy initiatives
Meanwhile, supporters of the ballot initiative focused on amassing volunteers to gather signatures. The push started with umbrella organizations such as Metropolitan Congregations United of St. Louis, which ultimately drafted more than 50 congregations to the effort, said the Rev. David Gerth, the group’s executive director. In the Kansas City area, more than 80 churches and organizations joined up, according to the local nonprofit Communities Creating Opportunity.
Predominantly African-American congregations in Kansas City and St. Louis made up a major part of the coalition, but the issue crossed racial lines and extended into suburbs and small towns. Within one mile of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, a mostly white suburb of Kansas City, there are eight high-cost lenders. “We think it’s a significant problem and that it was important for people of faith to respond to this issue,” said McCann, who leads the church.
Volunteers collected signatures at Catholic fish fries during Lent and a community-wide Holy Week celebration. They went door to door and stood on street corners.
In early January 2012, a number of clergy opened their mail to find a “Legal Notice” from a Texas law firm and sent on MECO’s behalf. “It has come to our attention that you, your church, or members of your church may be gathering signatures or otherwise promising to take directions from the proponents’ political operatives, who tell churchgoers that their political plan is a ‘Covenant for Faith and Families,'” said the letter.
“Please be advised that strict statutes carrying criminal penalties apply to the collection of signatures for an initiative petition,” it said in bold type. Another sentence warned that churches could lose their tax-exempt status by venturing into politics. The letter concluded by saying MECO would be watching for violations and would “promptly report” any.
Soon after the Rev. Wallace Hartsfield of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City received the letter, a lawyer called. Had he received the letter? Hartsfield remembers being asked. He responded, “If you feel like we’re doing something illegal, you need to try to sue, all right?” he recalls. Ultimately, no suits or other actions appear to have been filed against any faith groups involved in the initiative fight.
MECO did not respond to requests for comment. The law firm behind the letter, Anthony & Middlebrook of Grapevine, Texas, referred comment to the lawyer who had handled the matter, who has left the firm. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Payday lenders and their allies took other steps as well. A Republican lobbyist submitted what appears to have been a decoy initiative to the Missouri Secretary of State that, to the casual reader, closely resembled the original measure to cap loans at 36 percent. It proposed to cap loans at 14 percent, but stated that the limit would be void if the borrower signed a contract to pay a higher rate — in other words, it wouldn’t change anything. A second initiative submitted by the same lobbyist, Jewell Patek, would have made any measure to cap loan interest rates unlawful. Patek declined to comment.
MECO spent at least $800,000 pushing the rival initiatives with its own crew of signature gatherers, according to the group’s state filings. It was an effective tactic, said Gerth, of the St. Louis congregations group. People became confused about which was the “real” petition or assumed they had signed the 36 percent cap petition when they had not, he and others who worked on the effort said.
MECO’s efforts sowed confusion in other ways. In April 2012, a local court sided with MECO in one of its lawsuits against the initiative, throwing the ballot proposition into serious jeopardy for several months until the state Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling. During those months, according to video shot by the rate cap’s supporters, MECO’s employees out on the streets warned voters who were considering signing the petition that it had been deemed “illegal.”
MECO also took to the airways. “Here they come again,” intones the narrator during a television ad that ran in Springfield, “Washington, DC special interests invading our neighborhoods.” Dark figures in suits and sunglasses can be seen descending from a plane. “An army of outsiders approaching us at our stores and in our streets,” says the voice. “But together we can stop them: If someone asks you to sign a voter petition, just decline to sign.”
Although the ad discloses that it was paid for by MECO, it does not mention payday lending or capping interest rates.
Installment lenders join the fray
Installment lenders launched a separate group, Stand Up Missouri, to fight the rate-cap initiative — and to differentiate themselves from payday lenders.
As the group’s website put it, “special interest groups masquerading as grass-roots, faith-based alliances” were not only targeting payday loans but also “safe” forms of credit such as installment loans. “Stand Up Missouri does not represent payday lending or payday interests,” the group said in its press releases.
Unlike payday loans, which are typically due in full after two weeks, installment loans are paid down over time. And while many payday lenders also offer such loans, they usually charge higher annual rates (from about 300 to 800 percent). The highest annual rate charged by World Finance, among the largest installment lenders in the country and the biggest backer of Stand Up Missouri, is 204 percent, according to its last annual filing.
Still, like payday lenders, installment lenders such as World profit by keeping borrowers in a cycle of debt. Installment and payday lenders are also similar in the customers they target. In neighboring Illinois, 56 percent of payday borrowers and 72 percent of installment loan borrowers in 2012 had incomes of $30,000 or less, according to state data.
World was the subject of an investigation by ProPublica and Marketplace in May. The company has 76 locations in Missouri: Of all high-cost lenders, only payday lenders QC and Advance America have more locations in the state.
Stand Up Missouri raised $443,000 from installment lenders and associated businesses to oppose the rate-cap ballot initiative, according to state filings.
To broadcast their message in Missouri, the installment lenders arranged a letter-writing campaign to local newspapers, placed ads, distributed video testimonials by satisfied customers, and held a rally at the capitol. Like MECO, Stand Up Missouri also filed suit with their own team of lawyers to block the initiative.
Tom Hudgins, the chairman of Stand Up Missouri as well as the president and chief operating officer of installment lender Western Shamrock, declined to be interviewed but responded to questions with an emailed statement. Stand Up Missouri acknowledges that “some financial sectors” may require reform, he wrote, but the initiative backers didn’t want to work with lenders.
“Due to their intense lack of interest in cooperatively developing market-based reforms, we have and will continue to meet with Missourians in all corners of the state to discuss the financial market and opportunities to reform the same.”
“Put a good face on this”
In February 2012, the Rev. Starsky Wilson of St. Louis sat down at a table in the Four Seasons Hotel. The floor-to-ceiling windows reveal vistas of the city’s famous arch and skyline. Lined up in front of him were two lobbyists and Hudgins, he remembers.
The lenders had targeted a community that was both important to their profits and crucial to the petition drive: African-Americans. Wilson, like the majority of his flock, is black.
So were the two lobbyists. Kelvin Simmons had just a few weeks before been in charge of the state budget and was a veteran of Missouri politics. His new employer was the international law firm Dentons, then called SNR Denton, and he was representing his first client, Stand Up Missouri.
Next to Simmons was Rodney Boyd, for the past decade the chief lobbyist for the city of St. Louis. He, too, worked for SNR Denton.
The lobbyists and Hudgins urged Wilson to re-think his commitment to the rate-cap ballot initiative.
Wilson was not swayed, but he was only one target among many. At the Four Seasons, Wilson says, he bumped into two other leaders of community organizations who had been summoned to hear Stand Up Missouri’s message. He said he also knew of more than a dozen African-American clergy who met with the lobbyists. Their message, that installment loans were a vital credit resource for middle-class African-Americans, was persuasive for some. As a result, Wilson found himself mounting a counter-lobbying effort. A spokesperson for Simmons and Boyd’s firm declined to comment.
In Kansas City, Rev. Hartsfield also received an invitation from the lobbyists — but that was not the only case, as Hartsfield puts it, of an African-American being “sent into the community to try to put a good face on this.”
Willie Green spent eight seasons as a wide receiver in the NFL and won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. After he retired in 1999, he opened several payday loan stores of his own and went on to hold a series of positions serving as a spokesman for payday lending, especially to minority communities.
While African-Americans comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 23 percent of payday loan borrowers, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts survey. Green was “Senior Advisor of Minority Affairs” for the Community Financial Services Association, the payday lenders’ national trade group, then director of “community outreach” for Advance America, one of the largest payday lenders. Finally, in 2012, he opened his own consultancy, The Partnership Alliance Co., which, according to his LinkedIn profile, focused on “community relations.” Over the past decade, he has popped up during legislative fights all over the country — North Carolina; Georgia; Washington, D.C.; Arkansas; Colorado.
It is unclear who hired Green in 2012 — he declined to comment, and MECO did not report paying him or his company. But to Hartsfield, it was clear he was there to advocate on behalf of payday lending.
Green once penned an open letter to the Georgia’s legislative black caucus arguing that government regulation on payday loans was unneeded and paternalistic: Opponents of payday lending “believe that people unlike them are just po’ chillin’ who must be parented by those who know better than they do what’s in their best interest,” he wrote, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
During their private meeting, Hartsfield said, Green made a similar argument but also discussed church issues unrelated to the ballot initiative. The payday lending industry might be able to help with those, Hartsfield recalled Green saying. The message the minister received from the offer, he said, was “we’ll help you with this over there if you stop this over here.”
Green referred all questions to his new employer, the installment lender World Finance. In a statement, World did not address specific questions but said the company was “pleased to have Mr. Green as a member of its team to enhance World’s outreach to the communities that it serves and to provide him the opportunity to continue his many years of being personally involved in and giving back to those communities.”
Hartsfield did not take Green up on his offer, but the former athlete has served as a gateway to the industry’s generosity before. In 2009 in Colorado, where payday loan reform was a hot topic (a bill ultimately passed in 2010), Green presented the Urban League of Metro Denver with a $10,000 check on behalf of Advance America. Landri Taylor, president and chief executive of the organization, recalled that Green had approached him with the offer and that he was glad for the support. He also said that lending was not a core issue for his organization and that, even if it were, the contribution couldn’t have bought its allegiance.
In Georgia in 2007, Green, then a registered lobbyist, gave a state lawmaker $80,000 a few weeks before the legislature voted on a bill to legalize payday lending. The lawmaker, who subsequently pleaded guilty to unrelated federal charges of money laundering, was one of 11 Democrats to vote for the bill.
After the Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke news of the transfer, Green produced documents showing that it had been a loan for a real estate investment: The lawmaker had promised to repay the loan plus $40,000, but had never done so, Green said. The state ethics commission subsequently found Green had broken no state laws, because lobbyists are allowed to engage in private business transactions with lawmakers.
The case of the missing petitions
By the spring of 2012, supporters of the initiative were in high gear. Volunteers, together with some paid employees, were collecting hundreds of signatures each day. They were increasingly confident they would hit their mark.
In some areas, such as Springfield, the work resembled hand-to-hand combat. Through intermediaries, such as ProActive Signature Solutions, the initiative’s opponents hired people to oppose it.
“It was a well-funded effort,” said Oscar Houser of ProActive. He declined to say which company had retained ProActive. However, only MECO reported spending funds on what it said were signature gatherers. Those employees, according to Houser, eventually focused solely on trying to prevent people from signing the initiative.
Marla Marantz, a Springfield resident and retired schoolteacher, was hired to gather signatures for the 36 percent cap initiative. Just about every day, she could expect to be joined by at least one, and often several, of ProActive’s employees, she says. Wherever she went — the public library, the DMV — they would soon follow. It was a tactic both she and her adversaries (with whom she became very familiar, if not friendly) called “blocking.”
“What we’re doing is preventing them from being able to get signatures,” one ProActive employee says on a video shot by a Missouri State University journalism student. Asked to describe how “blocking” works, the employee says, “Usually, we get a larger group than they have. We pretty much use the power of numbers.” In the video, as Marantz stands outside a public building, she is surrounded by three ProActive employees.
ProActive’s employees did not identify themselves to voters as affiliated with payday lending, Marantz says. They sometimes wore T-shirts reading “Volunteer Petition Official” or held signs urging citizens to “Stand up for Equal Opportunity.”
Marantz shared various photos and videos of her experiences. In one video, a library employee tells a group of ProActive employees they will be asked to leave if they continue to make patrons uncomfortable. At other times, Marantz says, exasperated public employees or the police simply asked anyone collecting signatures to leave the area.
McCann also gathered signatures for the initiative and experienced “blocking.” “I had on my clerical collar, and they seemed to address a lot of their vitriol at me,” she remembers.
In May 2012, Missourians for Responsible Lending, the organization formed by supporters of the initiative, filed suit in county court in Springfield, alleging that MECO, through ProActive, was illegally harassing and assaulting its signature gatherers. The suit included sworn declarations by Marantz and three others who had said they had endured similar treatment. It called for a temporary restraining order that would keep MECO’s employees at least 15 feet away.
MECO, via its lawyers, fired back. The suit was an unconstitutional attempt by supporters of the initiative to silence their political opponents based on alleged “sporadic petty offenses,” MECO argued. Even if the initiative’s detractors “engaged in profanity-laced insults all of the time,” they said, such behavior would still be protected by the First Amendment.
Houser called the suit “frivolous” and said he was happy to let MECO’s lawyers handle it. The suit stalled.
“Blocking” wasn’t the only problem initiative supporters encountered. Matthew Patterson ran a nonprofit, ProVote, that coordinated signature gathering in the Springfield area. On the night of April 25, 2012, Patterson put a box of petitions in his car. Then, realizing he had forgotten his phone in his office, he locked his car and went back inside.
When he returned, his passenger side window was broken and the box of petitions was gone, according to Patterson and the police report he filed. The box had contained about 5,000 voter signatures, about half of which were for the 36 percent cap initiative, Patterson said.
No arrest was ever made. Volunteers from Kansas City and St. Louis converged on the area to recoup the lost signatures. The final deadline to submit signatures to the secretary of state’s office was less than two weeks away.
23,000 over, 270 under
In August, the Missouri Secretary of State announced that supporters of the initiative had submitted more than 118,000 valid signatures, about 23,000 more than needed.
But the state’s rules required that they collect signatures from at least 5 percent of voters in six of the state’s nine congressional districts. They had met that threshold in five districts — but in the First District, which includes North St. Louis, they were 270 signatures short.
A week later, initiative supporters filed a challenge in court, arguing that local election authorities had improperly disqualified far more than 270 signatures. MECO and Stand Up Missouri joined the fray, arguing not only that signatures had been properly excluded, but also that far more should have been tossed out.
Eventually, with only a couple of weeks before the deadline to finalize the November ballot, backers of the initiative decided they could not match the lenders’ ability to check thousands of signatures. They withdrew their challenge.
“It was so frustrating, disappointing,” McCann said. “People had spent hours and hours and hours on this initiative.”
Looking to 2014
The initiative’s supporters now have their eye on 2014, and they have made the necessary preparation by filing the same petition again with the secretary of state.
The industry has also made preparations. MECO has reported adding $331,000 to its war chest since December. Stand Up Missouri has raised another $151,000.
Last May, Jewell Patek, the same Republican lobbyist who filed the industry’s initiatives in 2011, filed a new petition. It caps annual rates at 400 percent.
The installment lenders have continued their effort to woo African-Americans. In December, Stand Up Missouri was a sponsor of a Christmas celebration for Baptist ministers in St. Louis, and in June, it paid for a $20,000 sponsorship of the National Baptist Convention, hosted this year in St. Louis. It’s retained the same high-powered African-American lobbyists and added one more: Cheryl Dozier, a lobbyist who serves as executive director of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus. Lastly, Willie Green, according to initiative supporters who have spoken with the ministers, has made overtures to African-American clergy on behalf of World Finance.
“I really needed the cash, and that was the only thing that I could think of doing at the time,” she said. The decision has hung over her life ever since.
A single mother who works unpredictable hours at a chiropractor’s office, she made payments for a couple of months, then she defaulted.
So AmeriCash sued her, a step that high-cost lenders 2013 makers of payday, auto-title and installment loans 2013 take against their customers tens of thousands of times each year. In just Missouri and Oklahoma, which have court databases that allow statewide searches, such lenders file more than 29,000 suits annually, according to a ProPublica analysis.
ProPublica’s examination shows that the court system is often tipped in lenders’ favor, making lawsuits profitable for them while often dramatically increasing the cost of loans for borrowers.
High-cost loans already come with annual interest rates ranging from about 30 percent to 400 percent or more. In some states, if a suit results in a judgment 2013 the typical outcome 2013 the debt can then continue to accrue at a high interest rate. In Missouri, there are no limits on such rates.
Many states also allow lenders to charge borrowers for the cost of suing them, adding legal fees on top of the principal and interest they owe. One major lender routinely charges legal fees equal to one-third of the debt, even though it uses an in-house lawyer and such cases usually consist of filing routine paperwork. Borrowers, meanwhile, are rarely represented by an attorney.
After a judgment, lenders can garnish borrowers’ wages or bank accounts in most states. Only four states prohibit wage garnishment for most debts, according to the National Consumer Law Center; in 20, lenders can seize up to one-quarter of borrowers’ paychecks. Since the average borrower who takes out a high-cost loan is already stretched to the limit, with annual income typically below $30,000, losing such a large portion of their pay “starts the whole downward spiral,” said Laura Frossard of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma.
The peril is not just financial. In Missouri and other states, debtors who don’t appear in court also risk arrest.
Lenders argue their high rates are necessary if they are to be profitable and that the demand for their products is proof they provide a valuable service. When they file suit against their customers, they do so only as a last resort and always in compliance with state law, lenders contacted for this article said.
After AmeriCash sued Burks in September 2008, she found her debt had grown to more than $4,000. She agreed to pay it back, bit by bit. If she didn’t, AmeriCash won the right to seize a portion of her pay.
Ultimately, AmeriCash took more than $5,300 from Burks’ paychecks. Typically $25 per week, the payments made it harder to cover basic living expenses, Burks said. “Add it up: As a single parent, that takes away a lot.”
But those years of payments brought Burks no closer to resolving her debt. Missouri law allowed it to continue growing at the original interest rate of 240 percent 2013 a tide that overwhelmed her small payments. So even as she paid, she plunged deeper and deeper into debt.
By this year, that $1,000 loan Burk’s took out in 2008 had grown to a $40,000 debt, almost all of which was interest. After ProPublica submitted questions to AmeriCash about Burks’ case, however, the company quietly and without explanation filed a court declaration that Burks had completely repaid her debt.
Had it not done so, Burks would have faced a stark choice: declare bankruptcy or make payments for the rest of her life.
A Judge’s Dismay
Appointed to Missouri’s associate circuit court in St. Louis last year by Gov. Jay Nixon, Judge Christopher McGraugh came to the bench with 25 years’ experience as an attorney in civil and criminal law. But, he said, “I was shocked” at the world of debt collection.
As in Burks’ case, high-cost lenders in Missouri routinely ask courts to hand down judgments that allow loans to continue growing at the original interest rate. Initially, he refused, McGraugh said, because he feared that would doom debtors to years, if not a lifetime, of debt.
“It’s really an indentured servitude,” he said. “I just don’t see how these people can get out from underneath [these debts].”
But he got an earful from the creditors’ attorneys, he said, who argued that Missouri law was clear: The lender has an unambiguous right to obtain a post-judgment interest rate equal to that in the original contract. McGraugh studied the law and agreed: His hands were tied.
Now, in situations where he sees a debt continuing to build despite years of payments by the debtor, the best he can do is urge the creditor to work with the debtor. “It’s extremely frustrating,” he said.
Since the beginning of 2009, high-cost lenders have filed more than 47,000 suits in Missouri, according to a ProPublica analysis of state court records. In 2012, the suits amounted to 7 percent of all collections suits in the state. Missouri law allows lenders to charge unlimited interest rates, both when originating loans and after winning judgments.
Borrowers such as Burks often do not know how much they have paid on their debt or how much they owe. When creditors seek to garnish wages, the court orders are sent to debtors’ employers, which are responsible for deducting the required amount, but not to the debtors themselves.
AmeriCash, for instance, was not required to send Burks any sort of statement after the garnishment began. She learned from a reporter how much she had paid 2013 and how much she still owed.
After AmeriCash’s deduction and another garnishment related to a student loan, Burks said she took home around $460 each week from her job.
No court oversees the interest that creditors such as AmeriCash charge on post-judgment debts. For instance, the judgment that Burks and an attorney for AmeriCash signed says that her debt will accrue at 9 percent interest annually. Instead, AmeriCash appears to have applied her contractual rate of 240 percent a year.
That seems unjustified, McGraugh said. “I would believe you’re bound by the agreement you made in court.”
In the past five years, AmeriCash has filed more than 500 suits in Missouri. The suits often result in cases like Burks’, with exploding debts. One borrower took out a $400 loan in late 2005 and by 2012 had paid $3,573 2013 but that didn’t stop the interest due on the loan from ballooning to more than $16,000. (As in Burks’ case, AmeriCash relieved that debtor of his obligation after ProPublica submitted a list of questions to the company.)
AmeriCash, a private company based in a Chicago suburb, has five stores in Missouri, as well as 60 more across four other states. The company did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails about its practices. The firm’s attorney, Wally Pankowski of the Evans & Dixon law firm, declined to comment.
Cases in which lawsuits led to exploding debts abound in Missouri, and ProPublica found examples involving several different lenders.
Erica Hollins of St. Louis took out a $100 loan from Loan Express just before Christmas 2006. She soon fell behind on the payments, but instead of suing immediately, the company waited, the debt growing at 200 percent interest all the while. When the company sued two and a half years later, it received a judgment to collect on $913, including interest.
For years, the company garnished Hollins’ paychecks from her job at a nursing home. When, after a total of nearly $3,600 in payments, Hollins still had not cleared her debt, she called Loan Express’ attorney, she said. As in Burks’ case, the lender was represented by Pankowski. “I asked him would I ever be done paying for this?” she recalled. “And he said, 2018Maybe, maybe not.’ ” (Pankowski declined to comment on the case.)
Hollins sought legal help. Now she’s filed suit against the company, alleging it intentionally delayed suing so that her debt would multiply. The suit is ongoing.
Todd Stimson, who owns Loan Express, as well as three other stores in Illinois, said his company waited to sue Hollins because he believed her wages were already being garnished by another creditor. He also said his company gave her ample opportunity to avoid a suit in the first place but that Hollins didn’t pay. Companies like his have to sue in such situations, he said. Otherwise, “word gets out in the neighborhood, 2018Oh, you won’t get sued anyway, just don’t pay them.'”
As for Hollins paying back more than 35 times what she borrowed, Stimson said his company might have stopped the garnishment if Hollins had asked, although he added that “legally, I don’t have to.”
Not all lenders pursue as much as they are legally entitled to. Some lenders charge triple-digit rates in their contracts, but they lower the rate after receiving a judgment.
Speedy Cash, for instance, has filed at least 9,382 lawsuits in Missouri over the past five years, more than any other high-cost lender, according to ProPublica’s analysis. It has six stores in the state, in addition to making loans online.
Speedy Cash’s loans can be very expensive. A 2011 contract for a $400 loan, for instance, shows a 389 percent annual interest rate and total payments of $2,320 over a year and a half.
Case Files: Missouri
Missouri allows high-cost lenders who win judgments against delinquent borrowers to charge unlimited interest rates on the debts, inflating the amount owed. Here are three examples:
#AceDebtNews says the simple act of creating wealth has long been disputed in the world of borrowing and lending ,many economists have argued over who is right or wrong about the next federal reserve move, or what should be done to balance the economy. Though one blatant thing stands out above all else, and that is without money or the use of the wealth ,we could not survive!
Or could we?
For a long time now and having tried and failed at setting in motion every conceivable system, of monetary control, from QE to the recent debacle of “Debt Ceiling” nothing ever works!
Unless people spend money!
Over many years of providing “Other Peoples Money” , that l simple shall term as “OPM” for this post, the simple fact was, as more people borrowed to get richer, they actually got poorer, Oh not in the pocket but simply in their heart!
The richer they got ,the more they wanted and the More they wanted, the worst the economy became!
It was just like that drug called “OPIUM” and they could not stop!
What Can We Learn from Aldrich-Vreeland Emergency Currency?
William L. Silber*
At the outbreak of World War I, the biggest gold outflow in a generation posed a double-barrelled threat to American finance: An internal drain of currency from the banking system and an external drain of gold to Europe. The Federal Reserve System, newly authorized by Congress on December 23, 1913, remained on the sidelines during the summer of 1914, a victim of political and administrative delays. The absence of an operational central bank encouraged Treasury SecretaryWilliam G. McAdoo to improvise the modern principle of aiming an independent weapon at each policy target. He employed a form of capital controls to deal with the external threat, shutting the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for more than four months to prevent Europeans from selling their American securities and demanding gold in return. And he invoked the emergency currency provisions of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act to deal with the internal threat, allowing banks to issue national bank notes, an important form of currency in pre-Federal Reserve days, without the normal requirement that the currency be secured by U.S. Government bonds.
So how did we get into this situation in the first place ,well everything has to have a beginning and will l am sorry to say have an end, but not an end in this case anyone will expect.
According to Friedman and Schwartz (1963, p.196), by November 1914 “the country had recovered from … the declaration of war in Europe, thanks in no small part to the availability of Aldrich-Vreeland emergency currency.” Friedman and Schwartz (1963, p. 172) also suggest that emergency currency “would have been equally effective on the occasion of the next threat of an inter-convertibility [sic] crisis which arose in late 1930.”
This paper tests Friedman and Schwartz’s conjecture about the power of Aldrich-Vreeland emergency currency and draws lessons for monetary policy. Proof of the potency of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act, passed in 1908 to avoid a replay of the Panic of 1907, comes from a little-known experiment conducted by William McAdoo in1913. Friedman and Schwartz’s suggestion that the1930 banking crisis might have been nipped in the bud with an operational Aldrich-Vreeland Act gains credibility from a key characteristic of crisis control under the Act: liquidity flowed automatically to where it was needed most.
It was him that recommended that the Federal Reserve adopt the principles of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act in its administration of the discount window. This will help preserve the integrity of the banking system, especially under wartime conditions with impaired communications.
I. What happened in 1914?
Foreigners owned more than $4 billion U.S. rail-road stocks and bonds at the outbreak of the Great War, with $3 billion of that in British hands. These securities were liquid assets and could be sold quickly on the NYSE. Under the gold standard, foreign investors could then use their cash proceeds to acquire the precious metal from the American banking system. Fear that the United States would abandon the gold standard pushed the value of the dollar to unprecedented depths on world markets. The magnitude of the problem forced America to defend itself: At the outbreak of the war, reserves at New York banks would have been cut in half if the British sold only five percent of their holdings (see Noyes, 1916, p.94). People knew that the banks had tried to conserve reserves in 1907 by suspending the convertibility of deposits into currency. In 1914, the bankers worried that the gold outflow to Europe would “inspire fear” and trigger an added rush into cash before suspensions took effect. Without an operational Federal Reserve System, the currency shortage would spawn bank runs like “those experienced in the fall of 1907” — only worse.
The crisis began on July 27, 1914. The sale of dollars for pounds sterling in the foreign exchange market, and the increase in the exchange rate to $4.92 per pound, four cents above the gold export point, provoked gold shipments. On July 31, 1914, after the price of sterling failed to decline in response to record gold exports, Treasury Secretary McAdoo asked the NYSE to close. If foreigners could not sell their U.S. stocks, they could not raise dollars and demand gold in exchange. McAdoo had rejected the direct approach, suspending the gold standard, as too costly to American credibility. The NYSE remained shut through December 12, 1914, mitigating sales of American securities by foreigners and hampering their demand for gold.
But the threat of a run on America’s bank reserves did not disappear. American debts denominated in British pounds matured during this period, and U.S. borrowers would need sterling or gold to meet their obligations. Moreover, precautionary withdrawals of currency from the banks threatened to exacerbate the loss in reserves from the gold outflow. Under the National Banking laws then in existence, commercial banks could create additional currency only by depositing U.S. Government bonds with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in the U.S. Treasury. The Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing would then ship newly printed national bank notes to the banks to meet depositor withdrawals. In the summer of 1914, national bank notes outstanding had already reached its maximum based on the outstanding supply of government securities.
Beginning August 4, 1914, after McAdoo invoked the Aldrich-Vreeland Act, banks could create currency, either by depositing municipal bonds directly with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or by depositing other securities or commercial paper with a local group of banks that had formed a National Currency Association under the Act. Thus a bank facing a sudden withdrawal of currency could create national bank notes to meet the demand, thanks to the emergency currency provisions of the “Aldrich-Vreeland Act”.
McAdoo recognized the potential danger of his policies – closing the stock exchange left the capital markets without a rudder and flooding the country with emergency currency tempted inflation. McAdoo’s recipe for smothering the crisis included an exit strategy. He organized the Bureau of War Risk Insurance on September 3, 1914 to promote exports of cotton and wheat to Europe. Exports would generate gold inflows in payment for American goods, which could then settle foreign obligations. McAdoo’s policies prevented a panic. Banks never suspended their promise to convert deposits into currency and the U.S. Treasury never left the gold standard during the summer and fall of 1914. On November 11, 1914, less than four months after the onset of the crisis, and four days before the opening of the Federal Reserve Banks, the exchange rate of the dollar relative to the pound sterling fell below the gold export point, and gold exports ceased.
The threat to the American financial system disappeared! Friedman and Schwartz (1963, p.196) are reasonably accurate in saying “by November 1914 the country had recovered from the immediate shock of the declaration of war in Europe,” but with so many components to McAdoo’s plan, perhaps they overreached when adding, “thanks in no small part to the availability of Aldrich-Vreeland emergency currency.”
The contrast between 1914 and 1907 supports Friedman and Schwartz’s interpretation. The growth in emergency currency between August 1, 1914 and its peak at the end of October 1914, produced a seven percent increase in the monetary base. The money supply grew at an annual rate of 9.8 percent over the same period. By way of contrast, in 1907 the public’s obsession with currency beginning the week of October 22, 1907, when the “Knickerbocker Trust Company” suspended payments, triggered a decline in the money supply at an annual rate of 11.6 percent during the final three months of the year. Additional evidence of the power of Aldrich-Vreeland emergency currency comes from a little-known experiment that McAdoo conducted a year before the European war erupted.
II. The Lesson of 1913:
McAdoo flirted with Aldrich-Vreeland currency during the spring of 1913. The newly elected “President, Woodrow Wilson”, had proposed tariff reduction legislation that provoked considerable opposition in the business community. Wilson pushed for prompt passage of the “Federal Reserve Act”, in part because he expected that the new currency system could supply easy money during the first few months of reduced protection from foreign competition. When Wilson suspected that Republican Senators wanted to block currency revision to precipitate a financial panic and blame the Administration’s new tariff policies, he turned to McAdoo. In the evening of June 11, 1913, McAdoo announced (Washington Post, June 12, 1913) that “he would not hesitate to issue emergency currency to any banks making application and qualifying under the [Aldrich-Vreeland] Act.” When McAdoo was asked whether any applications had been made he simply said: “No.” The press noted that: “The only explanation obtainable as to Mr. McAdoo’s purpose…is that it is intended to give assurance…that the Wilson Administration will do its utmost to overcome any financial embarrassment that may come.”
Would Aldrich-Vreeland currency succeed in calming the business community?
Opponents of the original legislation had argued that, instead of preventing a panic, the provision of emergency currency might backfire and provoke one. The then Comptroller of the Currency, William Ridgely, said (Comptroller of the Currency, 1907, p.74): “The issue of so-called emergency notes…would at once be a confession of weakness and a danger signal that no bank would dare make until in desperate condition.” Perhaps that is why no emergency currency had ever been requested since the Aldrich-Vreeland Act had been passed in May 1908. How did the business world respond to McAdoo’s June 11, 1913 invitation?
McAdoo released his statement invoking the Aldrich-Vreeland Act on the evening of June 11, after the stock market had closed. Thus, if McAdoo’s announcement had a material impact, for better or worse, it should have been reflected in stock price movements on June 12. The return of more than 2.5 percent in the index of railroad stocks (currently called the Dow Jones Transportation Average), and over 3 percent in the index of industrial stocks (currently called the Dow Jones Industrial Average), on June 12, 1913, are the largest statistically significant positive daily price movements during the first six months of 1913. Wall Street’s vote of confidence on June 12, 1913 demonstrated the potential power of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act. The record during the summer of 1914 confirmed it.
III. Liquidity in Wartime: An important characteristic of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act was that once the Treasury Secretary declared a financial crisis under the Act, a bank could decide the timing and magnitude of securities to deposit as collateral for additional currency. Thus high-powered money expanded endogenously to meet a shortage of liquidity. According to Sprague (1915, p.517) this feature of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act accounted for its success: “For the first time since the establishment of the national banking system the banks exercising the powers conferred upon them by the Aldrich Vreeland Act of 1908 were able to issue bank notes freely in coping with a crisis.”
Direct aid to individual banks needing liquidity may be the best way to combat a panic under wartime conditions. Interruptions in communications facilities, caused by total war or by terrorist attacks, can precipitate liquidity shortages at specific financial institutions. McAndrews and Potter (2002, p.72) cite the importance of the Federal Reserve’s lending at the discount window to individual banks as the key to mitigating the financial consequences of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Open market operations, the preferred method of injecting funds in the modern banking system, may not have accomplished its objective. Impaired funds transfer prevented some banks that needed cash from borrowing it in the inter-bank market.
In 1914, the threat of an external drain of gold forced McAdoo to close the NYSE. Call loans secured by stock exchange collateral, which normally would have been the primary source of liquidity to an individual bank, disappeared. Under the Aldrich-Vreeland Act banks turned their assets into emergency national bank notes. Like Federal Reserve lending at the discount window during the September 11, 2001 crisis, Aldrich-Vreeland currency provided a universally accepted domestic medium of exchange directly to the banks needing it.
The two key characteristics of currency creation under the Aldrich-Vreeland Act — (1) direct aid to an individual bank, and (2) at the discretion of the bank — support Friedman and Schwartz’s (1963, p. 172) conjecture that emergency currency “would have been equally effective on …the next threat of an inter-convertibility [sic] crisis which arose in late 1930.” During the Great Depression the Federal Reserve knew of Bagehot’s principle of lending freely to stem an internal drain of currency, but did not implement it consistently (see Meltzer [2003, p.282]). The Aldrich-Vreeland Act would have eliminated discretionary delays, by allowing banks under liquidity pressure to exchange assets for currency automatically, had the Act not expired by Congressional design on June 30, 1915 (as part of the Federal Reserve Act of December 23, 1913). Although banks that were members of the Federal Reserve System could initiate a demand for reserves at the discount window in 1930, the Federal Reserve banks exercised considerable discretion (see Chandler, 1971, pp. 225-239).
Open market operations suffered from discretionary delays plus the potential for reserves to accumulate in banks that did not need funds. Unwarranted mistrust of otherwise sound institutions during the 1930’s (some mistrust was warranted, but some was not), meant that open market purchases might not channel the funds to banks under depositor attack, similar to the breakdown of communications on September 11, 2001 described by McAndrews’ and Potter (2002, p.72). The mechanism for currency creation under the Aldrich-Vreeland Act would have provided credit at the bank’s initiative directly to banks needing it most. V. A Concluding Recommendation for Current Federal Reserve Policy The Aldrich Vreeland Act helped William G. McAdoo triumph over the financial crisis during the summer of 1914. Two key characteristics of the process — direct aid to an individual bank, at the initiative of the bank — suggest that the Aldrich Vreeland mechanism would be especially appropriate in avoiding discretionary delays in liquidity provision and in circumventing problems associated with funds transfers among financial institutions. The Federal Reserve’s revised guidelines for extending primary credit at the discount window moved in the direction of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act by limiting discretionary delays, but still falls short.
The Federal Reserve should complete the progress it has made towards incorporating the 1908 emergency currency legislation in its operating procedures.
Chandler, Lester V., 1971, American Monetary Policy: 1928-1941, Harper & Row publishers, New York.
Comptroller of the Currency, 1907, Annual Report, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
Friedman, Milton, and Anna J. Schwartz, 1963, A Monetary History of the United States, Princeton University Press.
McAndrews, James J. and Simon M. Potter, 2002, “Liquidity Effects of the Events of September 11, 2001,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Review, November Meltzer, Allan H., 2003, A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume I, 1913-1951, Chicago, University of Chicago Press
Noyes, Alexander D., 1916, Financial Chapters of the War, Charles Scribner’s and Sons, New York
Silber, William L., 2007, When Washington Shut Down Wall Street: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 and the Origins of America’s Monetary Supremacy, Princeton University Press
Sprague, O. M. W., 1915, “The Crisis of 1914 in the United States,” American Economic Review, Volume 5, No. 3, pp. 499-513
If the creation of wealth for the reason outlined had not been so manipulated as to eventually allow the use of “The Albert Vreeland Act” to be use in such a way, as to give rise to the eventually creation of “The Federal Reserve” allowing currency to become controlled under the “The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in the offices of the US Treasury ” we would not be in the position we are today.
The blatant misuse of the certain acts, enabled a misdirection to take place, allowing the then “Treasury Secretary ” William McAdoo to as it was put – “McAdoo flirted with Aldrich-Vreeland currency during the spring of 1913 allowing him to eventually both manipulate and control the price of gold and the eventual allowing banks to issue national bank notes, an important form of currency in pre-Federal Reserve days, without the normal requirement that the currency be secured by U.S. Government bonds.
The overall plan being to put in place a way of “Printing Currency at Times of Financial Crisis” or at such time of needing to raise “The Debt Ceiling” levels above their norm ,even when the amount owed in “Debt Repayments” exceeds the GDP of the country.
The fact that simply by “Creation of Currency Legislation” allowing control of “Peoples Spending” by valuation and devaluation of their effective currency, they could use the “Federal Reserve” as a tool for currency manipulation, and create what has become simply known as “Quantitative Easing” to borrow more against the book debt, by simply revaluing the book debt by how much you owe in debts.
This eventually led to what is now termed as inter-bank lending that was started here – “Open market operations, the preferred method of injecting funds in the modern banking system, may not have accomplished its objective. Impaired funds transfer prevented some banks that needed cash from borrowing it in the inter-bank market”. This was cited as ” Direct aid to individual banks needing liquidity may be the best way to combat a panic under wartime conditions”. Interruptions in communications facilities, caused by total war or by terrorist attacks, can precipitate liquidity shortages at specific financial institutions. McAndrews and Potter (2002, p.72) cite the importance of the Federal Reserve’s lending at the discount window to individual banks as the key to mitigating the financial consequences of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Finally this led to the single currency of US of A and the creation of more of the same leading to the eventual “Financial Crash of 2008″
But of course the real reason was Money!
The route or root of all evil – but not so, as the real saying is ” The Love of Money is the of All Evil” and it is that word “Love” that makes all the difference, between “Good and Evil” as it measures the person as either “Wanting or Lacking” as so many a person now destitute or alone or having taken their own life, all for the “Want” of money!
The Bible steps up to the plate so many times as a way to change but simply put ” Change Or Be Damned” seems to fit the bill in this case, as chasing the ” Dollar a Day” as a way to build you future is gradually dying a death, as the new kid on the block “China” says no longer are you our ” “Preferred Reserve Currency” the question in the future will not be, is it the Chinese, Hungary, Russia, India, Syria or Turkey [C.H.R.I.S.T] that is in charge ,but simply –