New Book: Anne Fleming, City of Debtors: A Century of Fringe Finance (2018). Overview below:
Since the rise of the small-sum lending industry in the 1890s, people on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder in the United States have been asked to pay the greatest price for credit. Again and again, Americans have asked why the most fragile borrowers face the highest costs for access to the smallest loans. To protect low-wage workers in need of credit, reformers have repeatedly turned to law, only to face the vexing question of where to draw the line between necessary protection and overreaching paternalism.
City of Debtors shows how each generation of Americans has tackled the problem of fringe finance, using law to redefine the meaning of justice within capitalism for those on the economic margins. Anne Fleming tells the story of the small-sum lending industry’s growth and regulation from the ground up, following the people who navigated the market for small loans and those who shaped its development at the state and local level. Fleming’s focus on the city and state of New York, which served as incubators for numerous lending reforms that later spread throughout the nation, differentiates her approach from work that has centered on federal regulation. It also reveals the overlooked challenges of governing a modern financial industry within a federalist framework.
Fleming’s detailed work contributes to the broader and ongoing debate about the meaning of justice within capitalistic societies, by exploring the fault line in the landscape of capitalism where poverty, the welfare state, and consumer credit converge.
Paul Sullivan, They’re Rich but Trying to Reach Beyond the Money Bubble, New York Times, November 7, 2017. [“Not only has a gulf grown between the haves and the have-nots, but so has the gap between the haves and the have-mores.”]
Graetz, Michael J., Heading off a Cliff? (October 25, 2017). The American Interest, Forthcoming; Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 585. [Abstract below]
The major tax policy challenge of the 21st century is the need to address the nation’s fiscal condition fairly and in a manner conducive to economic growth. But since California adopted Proposition 13 nearly forty years ago, antipathy to taxes has served as the glue that has held the Republican coalition together. Even though our taxes as a percentage of our economy are low by OECD standards and low by our own historical experience, anti-tax attitudes have become even more important for Republicans politically, since they now find it hard to agree on almost anything else. So revenue-positive, or even revenue-neutral, forms of tax reform — at least as long as the GOP maintains its legislative majority — are politically impossible. The sad truth, of course, is that the coming tax cuts cannot possibly be the great and simplifying tax reform that the President and Sixers claim and that our nation so badly needs.
Kyle Rozema, Nicolas R. Ziebarth, Taxing Consumption and the Take-up of Public Assistance: The Case of Cigarette Taxes and Food Stamps, Univ. Chi. L. Rev. (2017). [Abstract below]
We exploit cigarette tax variation across US states from 2001 to 2012 to show
how taxing inelastic consumption goods can induce low-income households to
enroll in public assistance programs. Using a novel household panel of monthly
food stamp enrollment from the Current Population Survey, we enrich standard
cigarette tax difference-in-differences models with an additional control group:
nonsmoking households. Smoking households are treated with higher taxes,
while nonsmoking households are not. Marginal smoking households respond
to increases in cigarette taxes by taking up food stamps at rates higher than
smoking households in other states and nonsmoking households in the same
Marshall Stienbaum, The Tax Debate We Need, Jacobin, October 20, 2017. [“Progressive taxation curbs the power of the wealthy – and that’s exactly why the Right hates it.”]
John Bouman, The GOP House Budget: Another Assault on People in Poverty, The Shriver Brief. [“The evidence is crystal clear: The federal safety net is working.”]
Stacy Cowley, Payday Lending Faces Tough New Restrictions by Consumer Agency, New York Times, October 5, 2017. [New agency rules look to curb predatory practices targeting the vulnerable.]
John Bouman, Poverty Matters: Five Key Takeaways from the 2016 Census Data Poverty Matters: Five Key Takeaways from the 2016 Census Data, The Shriver Brief, September 13, 2017. [Slight improvements haven not translated into gains for those facing poverty.]
Dominic Rushe, Fran works six days a week in fast food, and yet she’s homeless: “It’s economic slavery”, The Guardian Aug. 21, 2017. [An account of the experiences of Fran Marion and others who are leading the charge for a raised minimum wage.]
Arthur Delaney, Bad Jobs and No Welfare Give Rise to A New Type of Charity: The Diaper Bank, Huffington Post Aug. 21, 2017. [“A network of diaper banks now alleviates some of the suffering cause by the 1996 gutting of welfare”]