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Could restrictions on payday lending hurt consumers?

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

The payday loan, or more generally, the deferred deposit loan, is among the most contentious forms of credit. It typically signifies a small-dollar, short-term, unsecured loan to a high-risk borrower, often resulting in an effective annual percentage rate of 390 percent a rate well in excess of usury limits set by many states. Consumer advocates argue that payday loans take advantage of vulnerable, uninformed borrowers and often create “debt spirals.” Debt spirals arise from repeated payday borrowing, using new loans to pay off old ones, and often paying many times the original loan amount in interest. ; In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many policymakers are considering strengthening consumer protections on payday lending. Yet few studies have focused on any unintended consequences of restricting such lending. Thus, the question arises: Could restrictions on payday lending have adverse effects? ; Edmiston examines payday lending and provides new empirical evidence on how restrictions could affect consumers. His analysis shows that restrictions could deny some consumers access to credit, limit their ability to maintain formal credit standing, or force them to seek more costly credit alternatives. Thus, any policy decisions to restrict payday lending should weigh these potential costs against the potential benefits.

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