Magazine article Mother Jones

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit, and the Era of Predatory Lenders

Magazine article Mother Jones

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit, and the Era of Predatory Lenders

Article excerpt

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit, and the Era of Predatory Lenders By James D. Scurlock. Scribner. $24.

In 1733, James Oglethorpe established Georgia as a haven for the "worthy poor" to work off their debts. If he'd only known that nearly 275 years later, the entire United States would be a giant debtor's colony, one nation in the red, subject to compound interest, indentured to Citibank.

This is the bleak financial landscape explored in Maxed Out, an enlightening tour of America's dangerous love affair with easy credit James Scurlock, a Wharton grad who blew his inheritance on a Boston Market franchise, is an engaging guide to the corporate numbers games and the personal side of financial ruin. As he tours the country filming a documentary (just released under the same tide), he meets collection agents, personal finance gurus, families with kids or moms who killed themselves to avoid credit card bills, and Dee Hock, the aptly named visionary who realized Visa could get away with charging 18 percent interest. …

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