What do an undocumented immigrant in the South Bronx, a high-net-worth entrepreneur, and a twenty-something graduate student have in common? Read more...
What do an undocumented immigrant in the South Bronx, a high-net-worth entrepreneur, and a twenty-something graduate student have in common? All three are victims of our dysfunctional mainstream bank and credit system. Today nearly half of all Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and income volatility has doubled over the past thirty years. Banks, with their high monthly fees and overdraft charges, are gouging their low- and middle-income customers, while serving only the wealthiest Americans.
Lisa Servon delivers a stunning indictment of America's banks, together with eye-opening dispatches from inside a range of banking alternatives that have sprung up to fill the void. She works as a teller at RiteCheck, a check-cashing business in the South Bronx, and as a payday lender in Oakland. She looks closely at the workings of a tanda, an informal lending club. And she delivers fascinating, hopeful portraits of the entrepreneurs reacting to the unbanking of America by designing systems to creatively serve many of us. Banks were once essential pillars of our lives; now we can no longer count on them to do right by us.
"Required reading for fans of muckraking authors like Barbara Ehrenreich, this fascinating look at the future of money management insists that the 'unbanked' are a sector deserving of respect and solid options." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
- ISBN-13: 9780544602311
- ISBN-10: 0544602315
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
- Publish Date: January 2017
- Page Count: 250
- Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-10-17
- Reviewer: Staff
The failure of banks to meet the needs of the 99%and the cottage industries filling the gapare thoughtfully explored in this startling and absorbing exposé from Servon, a professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. As she describes, commercial banks now cater largely to the wealthy, and more Americans are turning to alternative financial services, including check cashers, payday lenders, and a variety of informal arrangements. To better understand the options available, Servon took jobs at RiteCheck, a check-cashing establishment in the South Bronx, and Check Center, a payday lender in Oakland, Calif. Surprisingly, she concludes that the seemingly predatory shadow banking system may simply be a reasonable (if inconsistently regulated) approach to customer demand. In layperson-accessible language, Servon explains the effects of banking regulationsboth recent and historicaland of technological innovations in consumer financial services. Most notable is the breadth of people she finds who have removed themselves, or been removed, from the world of conventional banking, including those with chronically low income, students, and entrepreneurs. Required reading for fans of muckraking authors like Barbara Ehrenreich, this fascinating look at the future of money management insists that the ever-growing number of the unbanked are a sector deserving of respect and solid options. Agent: Adam Eaglin, Cheney Literary. (Jan.)