At the Trump Doral outside Miami, payday lenders celebrated the potential death of a rule intended to protect their customers. They couldn’t have done it without President Donald Trump and his latest deregulator, Kathleen Kraninger.
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In mid-March, the payday lending industry held its annual convention at the Trump National Doral hotel outside Miami. Payday lenders offer loans on the order of a few hundred dollars, typically to low-income borrowers, who have to pay them back in a matter of weeks. The industry has long been reviled by critics for charging stratospheric interest rates – typically 400% on an annual basis – that leave customers trapped in cycles of debt.
The industry had felt under siege during the Obama administration, as the federal government moved to clamp down. A government study found that a majority of payday loans are made to people who pay more in interest and fees than they initially borrow. Google and Facebook refuse to take the industry’s ads.
On the edge of the Doral’s grounds, as the payday convention began, a group of ministers held a protest pray-in, denouncing the lenders for having a feast while their borrowers suffer and starve.
But inside the hotel, in a wood-paneled bar under golden chandeliers, the mood was celebratory. Payday lenders, many dressed in golf shirts and khakis, enjoyed an open bar and mingled over bites of steak and coconut shrimp.
They had plenty to be elated about. A month earlier, Kathleen Kraninger, who had just finished her second month as director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, had delivered what the lenders consider an epochal victory: Kraninger announced a proposal to gut a crucial rule that had been passed under her Obama-era predecessor.
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Payday lenders viewed that rule as a potential death sentence for many in their industry. (more…)