Just a generation ago, the average family simply couldn't borrow very much money. High-limit, all-purpose credit cards did not exist for those with average means. There were no mortgages available for 125 percent of the home's value and no offers in the daily mail for second and third equity loans. There were no "payday lenders", no "live checks", no "instant money," and certainly no offers to "consolidate" all that debt by moving it from one credit card to another.[...] Instead of running debt anonymously, a prospective borrower was forced to meet a stern-looking banker, face to face.[...]Кажется, первый раз в жизни читаю развёрнутые праксеологические аргументы в пользу тотальной несвободы!
The reason for the lender's cautious approach was not that the bankers of yesteryear were thriftier or that Americans hadn't yet developed a taste for "unbridled consumption". The reason was a far more powerful one, and it affected every lender and every borrower in the country: The law was different. In those days, the banking industry was highly regulated, and usury laws created ironclad limits on how much interest a bank could charge on a loan. As a result [...] families that wanted to borrow money had to prove they had a very high likelihood of repaying it. The judgement was not moralistic; it was supported by stubborn financial reality. Unlike today, bank vaults were firmly closed to families already in financial trouble.
From the founding of the Republic through the late 1970, interest rates had been a matter of states to determine, and the states had imposed limits on the amount of interest that could be charged on consumer loans. [...] In 1978, a Supreme Court opinion interpreting some ambiguous language in a little-known federal statute (попробую угадать: interstate commerce) opened a door for banks to "export" interest rates from one state to another. This meant that a bank with lending operations in South Dakota—where the interest ceiling was 24 percent, at a time when the rates in most states were capped at 12 to 18 percent—would have a distinct advantage.[...] The race was soon on. Local politicians across the country quickly figured out that all they had to do was raise the interest rate ceiling and lending institutions would flock to their states. Suddenly there was a new way for states to attract clean, white-collar jobs, and even grab a share of corporate taxes in the process.
By way of analogy, consider America's drug laws. Suppose that South Dakota passed a law (and the federal government permitted it) that made it legal to grow marijuana inside the state and to sell it anywhere in the country. South Dakota would bear only a tiny fraction of the total social cost of marijuana use, while reaping 100 percent of the profits for sales elsewhere. Suddenly the downside of marijuana use that once made the legalization unthinkable—drug addiction, health problems, traffic accidents, and so forth—might start to look pretty insignificant next to all those dollars the state could rake in.
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