Monday, June 20, 2005

The future of publishing

Back in Bremen and after finishing my tax declaration for 2004, great wakering provided my with an essay by Michael Peskin on the future of scientific publication. Most of it contains the widely accepted arguments about how The ArXive has revolutionized high energy physics but one aspect was new to me: He proposes that the refereeing process has to be organized by professionals and that roughly 30 percent of the costs of an article in PRL come from this stage of the publishing process. He foresees that this service will always need to be paid for but his business model sounds interesting: As page charges don't work, libraries should pay a sum (depending on the size of the institution but not on the number of papers) to these publishers which then accept papers from authors affiliated with those institutions for refereeing.

This would still require a brave move to get this going but this would have to come from the libraries. And libraries are well aware of the current crisis in the business (PRL is incedibly cheap (2950 US$) compared to NPB which costs 15460 US$ per year for institutions).

Once we are in the process of reforming the publishing process, I think we should also adopt an idea that I learnt from Vijay Balasubramanian: If a paper gets accepted, the name of the referee should also be made public. This would still protect the referee that rejects a paper but would make the referee accountable and more responsible for accepting any nonsense.

16 comments:

Leucipo said...

In the meantime, I would beg for more non.anonymous comments in my . The anonymous system for alluded ("referenced") authors was not devised to be the main source of input, but given the low intensity of blog-like interactions between recognised authors, it is.

Juan R. said...

A project for the reformulation of scientific publishing was launched by Shagaev and Juan R. some time ago.

Some of its main lines are recently discussed in Chemistry and Life 2005, 5, 6–10.

The idea of non keeping secret the name of referee was also proposed by us for the case of warm rejection.

For safing referees integrity, he/she can solicit to send an anonymous report, but author of rejected paper would be permitted to refuse any anonymous referee report when it was abusive.

This solve one of main problems of current referee system (as stated by many Nobel laureates whith work that was rejected and publication and social studies): anonymous rejection of theories contraries to referee own ones.

For more data you can see my recent blog

http://canonicalscience.blogspot.com/

or the project site

http://www.electrochemist2.narod.ru/index.html

Quantoken said...

The referee system constitute a de facto censorship, and the fact that referees are anonymous and are not held accountable make it the worst kind of censorship possible, worse even than censorships imposed by dictators, in which case at least you know who is censoring and who should be held accountable.

Any publishing censorship is harmful to the development of science. Science does not need censorship.

We need a system where any body who wishes can publish a paper on ARXIV. And any paper and its author can receive a fair and accurate evaluation of its value and credibitity. And on top of that, any reader can quickly and easily find all paper he/she considered good/useful/important, and easily screen out those papers that he/she considered of low quality/useless.

The general publishing community in the general public is a good model to follow. Here is a system all kinds of things could be published through all kinds of channel. But an average Joe has no difficulty finding and subscribing to whatever he/she is interested in, and waste no time on stuff he/she is not interested. And there is no censorship. It works by the feedback of the general readership. If a publisher or a writer is no good, it attacks little readership and goes out of business after a while.

Here is what I would propose:
1.Any one can be an author and publish on ARXIV. Each author will have a credibility score, automatically calcuated using a weighed average based on numbers of papers published and credibility score of papers he/she published.

2.Any one can read any paper, and be a referee and assign credibility score to the paper he/she reads. However, The referee will also receive a referee credibility score: The credibility score of a referee is accumulated by how accurate his references of papers are. If he says a paper is good and most other people agree with him, his referee credit will grow. If his reference is always opposite to what most other peopls say, his referee credit will be lowered, or even go negative.

3.A paper's credit is calculated by the credit people gave it, on a weighed average weighed on the referee's credit. If a referee has a negative credit and he bad-mouth your paper, that would only give more credit to the paper. If a referee has good credit and he says your paper is bad, that will reduce the redit of your paper.

4.All papers, authors, and referees will be listed in a very visible way, together with all the paper credits, author credits, referee credits.

5.All reader will be able to do a easy paper search, based his selection criteria. He can search for papers with highest score, or papers of lowest score, or only papers that a particular reader, like Witten, graded highly or lowly, or papers which are very controversal, meaning it received only highest scores and lowest scores, and nothing in between (people either say its very good or very bad).

6.All computations of credits will be done authmatically by computer, based on general reader feedbacks. So there is no manipulation and is completely fair.

In this system both readers/referees and authors will have the insentive and be encouraged to try to give accurate none-biased evaluations of papers they can understand, and avoid commenting on something they don't know, in order to gain high referee score (which is reputation, credibility and authority!!!) as well as publish high quality papers.

I think that would be an ideal publishing model for researchers to exchange information they are interested in.

Quantoken

Quantoken said...

I might also add that authors, but only the authors themselves should be allowed to withdraw his/her paper from the ARXIV. This way, if a published paper received bad evaluation from the people, it's in the author's OWN interest to withdraw it, so his/her author credit ratings do NOT get dragged down by bad papers.

This will help keep the system clean of garbages effectively. There may be authors who publish all bad papers and refuse to withdraw them. Then they end up with negative author credit and they can be automatically screened out by the general readership if they choose to screen out all papers by authors whose credit is below a certain threshold, so no one would have to waste any time on those useless paper.

Quantoken

Robert said...

I still think, that the arXive is the part of the publishing system, that works well. Even if the IUB proxy is blacklisted this week for whatever reason...

Natwho said...

www.nwcleasing.com offers the lowest rate financing on bad credit What ever your financial situation, bad credit can help. We even have a special loan program that can put money in your pocket within 1 hour of applying. Apply online today and see just how quickly we can get you approved regardless of your past credit. Rates start as low as 4%, apply today.

TrafficMegaDeals said...

OVER 1 MILLION WHOLESALE PRODUCTS

at Low Factory WHOLESALE Prices in the U.S.

and Around the World!



From The Best Manufacturers, Exporters,

Wholesalers, Drop-Shippers and More!
don lapre
Profit from selling Thousands of Products at

yard/tag sales, flea markets, auctions,

newspapers car boots etc! ect!

http://massivesavings4u.com

don lapre

6sec said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have a credit repair service site. It pretty much covers credit repair service related stuff.
Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Thank you for having this info on the web. I enjoyed your post. If you may have any interest in
debt consolidation
then I know where you may get your solution. For your comfort, I have enclosed the link, so if needed you can visit the site. Thanks again for your lovely blog. credit

Anonymous said...

Hi, Thank you for having this info on the web. I enjoyed your post. If you may have any interest in
Credit Card Consolidation
then I know where you may get your solution. For your comfort, I have enclosed the link, so if needed you can visit the site. Thanks again for your lovely blog. credit

Anonymous said...

Debt Consolidation Debt Consolidation Programs can help you reduce your interest burden by charging an interest rate lower than the rate on your existing loans. Debt consolidation loan can also allow you to make small monthly payments by extending the loan period

Anonymous said...

Hi, Thank you for having this info on the web. I enjoyed your post. If you may have any interest in
debt consolidation student Loan consolidation
then I know where you may get your solution. For your comfort, I have enclosed the link, so if needed you can visit the site. Thanks again for your lovely blog

Anonymous said...

Debt Settlement
Debt Relief can help you reduce your interest burden by charging an interest rate lower than the rate on your existing loans. Debt consolidation loan can also allow you to make small monthly payments by extending the loan period
http://www.debt1consolidation.com

best said...

We provide you web researchers who do a web research for you and find best best price products & services available over web. These sources provide you best products &
services at comparative less rates.Lot's of discount,deals and packages are also available for our members.

We know many products and services over web are quite difficult to find and it's next to impossible to find it over web.If you are looking for any product or services and not
able to find it,in that case you are at right place mail us what you are looking for and our researchers send you all the details on your mail account.

Check it once and see the difference.
http://www.bestpriceproduct.com

Anonymous said...

A payday loan is a short-term loan that you promise to pay back from your next pay cheque. A payday loan is sometimes also called a payday advance.

Normally, you have to pay back a payday loan on or before your next payday (usually in two weeks or less). The amount you can borrow is usually limited to 30 percent of the net amount of your pay cheque. The net amount of your pay cheque is your total pay, after any deductions such as income taxes. For example, if your pay cheque is $1,000 net every two weeks, your payday loan could be for a maximum of $300 ($1,000 x 30%).

Before giving you a payday loan, lenders will ask for proof that you have a regular income, a permanent address and an active bank account. Some payday lenders also require that you be over the age of 18.

To make sure you pay back the loan, all payday lenders will ask you to provide a postdated cheque or to authorize a direct withdrawal from your bank account for the amount of the loan, plus all the different fees and interest charges that will be added to the original amount of the loan. The combination of multiple fees and interest charges are what make payday loans so expensive (Click here for an explanation of the various fees associated with these types of loans.

The lender should also ask you to sign a loan agreement. If the lender does not offer to give you a copy of the loan agreement, ask for one. Read this document carefully before signing it, and keep a copy for your records

How and when do I pay back the loan?
A payday loan agreement usually says that you must pay the total amount you owe for the loan on or before the date stated in your loan agreement. This includes the amount you borrowed, plus interest and any additional fees and charges.

Some lenders will cash your postdated cheque or process your direct withdrawal on the day the loan is due. However, some lenders may require that you pay the loan in cash, on or before the due date.

If you have not paid the loan in cash by the due date, some lenders may cash your cheque or process the direct withdrawal you signed on the day after your loan's due date, and charge you another fee. Ask the lender what the most inexpensive way is for you to repay your loan.

How does a payday loan affect my credit report?
Credit-reporting agencies collect information on whether or not you make your payments on time. This information, also called your "credit history", is part of your credit report and is used to calculate your credit score.

Making payments on time can help improve your credit score by demonstrating that you are able to manage your debt. Even if you have poor credit, you can rebuild it by using a credit card or other type of credit and paying back the money you owe on time.

This is not the case with payday loans. Since payday lenders are not currently members of the main credit-reporting agencies, getting a payday loan and paying it off on time will not improve your credit score. However, if you do not pay your loan back on time and it is sent to a collection agency, this will likely be reported to a credit-reporting agency and could have a negative impact on your credit report.

How much will a payday loan cost?
A payday loan is much more expensive than most other types of loans offered by financial institutions such as banks or credit unions. Before you apply for a payday loan, find out about all the fees and charges you will have to pay — including the fees you will be charged if you cannot repay the loan on time. The fees may not be easy to see right away, so read the agreement carefully before signing it. If you do not receive an explanation of all of the fees, charges and interest that will apply to the loan, or if you are not satisfied with the explanation you receive, do not sign the loan agreement.

How does the cost of a payday loan compare with other credit products?
Payday loans are much more expensive than other types of loans, including credit cards. But how much are you really paying? How does the cost of a payday loan compare with taking a cash advance on a credit card, using overdraft protection on your bank account or borrowing on a line of credit?

Let's compare the cost of using different types of loans. We'll assume that you borrow $300, for 14 days. Note the considerable difference in the cost of each type of loan.

Things to consider before you apply for a payday loan
Even if you think you may be turned down, ask your bank or credit union for overdraft protection on your bank account, or a line of credit. These are relatively inexpensive ways of obtaining access to extra funds, for short-term use.


If you are turned down for any of these credit options, ask why. If the reason is that you have a poor credit history, contact the three credit-reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Read the reports carefully to make sure that all of the information in it is correct. If you find any errors, contact the credit-reporting agency to find out how you can have the information corrected. The three major credit-reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax Canada, TransUnion Canada and Northern Credit Bureaus. All three of these agencies will give you a copy of your credit report for free if you request that it be sent to you by regular mail.


Ask yourself if you really need to take out a loan, or whether you can get by until your next pay cheque. If you need the money immediately, try to make other arrangements. For example, you may be able to cash in vacation days. Or you might consider getting a short-term loan from a family member or a friend.


If you find that you need to apply for a payday loan because you have no alternative, only borrow an amount that you are 100 percent sure you can repay on the due date of the loan.


Don't borrow more than you need.

Things to consider if you take out a payday loan
Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Read carefully — and take home with you — a copy of the loan agreement that you are being asked to sign. Don't feel pressured to sign the loan agreement right away if you have questions and want more time to read through the agreement on your own. If the lender does not want to give you a copy of the agreement, look for another lender.


Be sure to ask about all the fees, charges and interest that apply when you first get the loan, and what other charges you will owe if you can't pay the loan back on time.


If you are taking out a payday loan at another location to pay back the first payday loan, or you are extending or "rolling over" the loan that you had with the same lender, you could find yourself in serious financial difficulty. The fees, charges and interest will add up quickly on these types of loans, which can put you into serious debt.
How can I figure out the cost of each type of loan?
To estimate the total cost of a loan, including the annual cost of the loan expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed, follow the steps below.

Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. First, find out the annual interest rate that applies to the loan (if there is one). Figure out the daily interest rate by dividing the annual interest rate of the loan by 365 days. Then, multiply that rate by the length of time you are taking the loan. Finally, multiply the result by the amount you will borrow, in dollars:


Amount of interest

= Annual interest rate

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
365 days × Length of the loan
(number of days) × Amount of the loan

Step 2:

Determine the total cost of the loan by adding any fees that may apply to the interest you will have to pay. Find out what fees apply to the loan and add them to the cost of the interest, found in Step 1:


Total cost of the loan = Amount of interest + Total fees


Step 3:

Estimate the annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. First, divide the total cost of the loan, found in Step 2, by the amount of the loan. Then, divide this rate by the length of time you are taking the loan (in days) and multiply it by 365 (the number of days in the year):


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days

Let's find out the cost of a $300 payday loan, taken for 14 days.

We'll assume that the lender charges you a one-time set-up fee of $10 and a service fee of $40, which includes interest on the loan.


Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. In this case, there is no interest fee. The interest is therefore $0.


Step 2:

Figure out the cost of the loan by adding together any fees that apply and the interest you will have to pay. In this case, you would add the $10 set-up fee and the $40 service fee together:

$10 + $40 = $50


Step 3:

Estimate the total annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed:


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days
= $50
———— ÷ 14 days × 365 days
$300
= 4.35 or approximately 435%

The total cost of the payday loan would be $50 with an annual cost of 435 percent of the amount borrowed.






Information asymmetries are common in credit market models, but the usual assumption,

at least in commercial lending, is that borrowers are the better informed party and that

lenders have to screen and monitor to assess whether firms are creditworthy. The opposite

asymmetry, as we assume here, does not seem implausible in the context of consumer lending.

“Fringe” borrowers are less educated than mainstream borrowers (Caskey 2003), and many

are first-time borrowers (or are rebounding from a failed first foray into credit). Lenders

know from experience with large numbers of borrowers, whereas the borrower may only have

their own experience to guide them. Credit can also be confusing; after marriage, mortgages

are probably the most complicated contract most people ever enter. Given the subtleties

involved with credit, and the supposed lack of sophistication of sub-prime borrowers, our

assumption that lenders know better seems plausible.

While lenders might deceive households about several variables that influence household

loan demand, we focus on income. We suppose that lenders exaggerate household’s future

income in order boost loan demand. Our borrowers are gullible, in the sense that they can

be fooled about their future income, but they borrow rationally given their beliefs. Fooling

borrowers is costly to lenders, where the costs could represent conscience, technological costs

(of learning the pitch), or risk of prosecution. The upside to exaggerating borrowers’ income

prospects is obvious—they borrow more. As long as the extra borrowing does not increase

default risk too much, and as long as deceiving borrowers is easy enough, income deception

and predatory—welfare reducing—lending may occur.

After defining predatory lending, we test whether payday lending fits our definition. Payday

lenders make small, short-term loans to mostly lower-middle income households. The

business is booming, but critics condemn payday lending, especially the high fees and frequent

loan rollovers, as predatory. Many states prohibit payday loans outright, or indirectly,

via usury limits.

To test whether payday lending qualifies as predatory, we compared debt and delinquency

rates for households in states that allow payday lending to those in states that do not. We

focus especially on differences across states households that, according to our model, seem

more vulnerable to predation: households with more income uncertainly or less education.

We use smoking as a third, more ambiguous, proxy for households with high, or perhaps

hyperbolic, discount rates. In general, high discounters will pay higher future costs for a

given, immediate, gain in welfare. Smokers’ seem to fit that description. What makes the

smoking proxy ambiguous is that smokers may have hyperbolic, not just high, discount rates.

Hyperbolic discount rates decline over time in a way that leads to procrastination and selfcontrol

problems (Laibson 1997). The hyperbolic discounter postpones quitting smoking,

or repaying credit. Without knowing whether smokers discount rates are merely high, or

hyperbolic, we will not be able to say whether any extra debt for smokers in payday states

is welfare reducing.2

Given those proxies, we use a difference-in-difference approach to test whether payday

lending fits our definition of predatory. First we look for differences in household debt

and delinquency across payday states and non-payday states, then we test whether those

difference are higher for potential prey. To ensure that any such differences are not merely

state effects, we difference a third time across time by comparing whether those differences

changed after the advent of payday lending circa 1995. That triple difference identifies any

difference in debt and delinquency for potential prey in payday states after payday lending

was introduced.

Our findings seem mostly inconsistent with the hypothesis that payday lenders prey on,

i.e., lower the welfare of, households with uncertain income or households with less education.

Those types of households who happen to live in states that allow unlimited payday loans

are less likely to report being turned down for credit, but are not more likely, by and large,

to report higher debt levels, contrary to the overborrowing prediction of our model. Nor are

such households more likely to have missed a debt payment in the previous year. On the

contrary, households with uncertain income who live in states with unlimited payday loans

are less likely to have missed a debt payment over the previous year. The latter result is

consistent with claims by defenders of payday lending that some households borrow from

2Consistent with a high discount rate, Munasinghe and Sicherman (2000) discover that smokers have

flatter wage profiles and they are willing to trade more future earnings for a given increase in current earnings.

Gruber and Mulainathan (2002) find that high cigarette taxes make smokers ”happier,” consistent with

hypberbolic discount rates (because taxes help smokers commit to quitting). DellaVigna and Malmendier

(2004) show how credit card lenders can manipulate hyperbolic discounters by front-loading benefits and

back-loading costs.

payday lenders to avoid missing payments on other debt. On the whole, our results seem

consistent with the hypothesis that payday lending represents a legitimate increase in the

supply of credit, not a contrived increase in credit demand.

We find some interesting differences for smokers, but those differences are harder to

interpret in relation to the predatory hypothesis without knowing apriori whether smokers

are hyperbolic, or merely high, discounters.

We also find, using a small set of data from different sources, that payday loan rates

and fees decline significantly as the number of payday lenders and pawnshops increase.

Reformers often advocate usury limits to lower payday loan fees but our evidence suggests

that competition among payday lenders (and pawnshops) works to lower payday loan prices.

Our paper has several cousins in the academic literature. Ausubel (1991) argues that

credit card lenders exploit their superior information about household credit demand in their

marketing and pricing of credit cards. The predators in our model profit from their information

advantage as well. Our concept of income delusion or deception also has a behavioral

flavor, as well, hence our use of smoking as a proxy for self-control problems. Brunnermeier

and Parker (2004), for example, imagine that households choose what to expect about future

income (or other outcomes). High hopes give households’ current “felicity,” even if it

distorts borrowing and other income-dependent decisions. Our households have high hopes

for income, and they make bad borrowing decisions, but we do not count the current felicity

from high hopes as an offset to the welfare loss from overborrowing.

Our costly falsification (of household income prospects) and costly verification (by counselors)

resemble Townsend’s (1979) costly state verification and Lacker andWeinbergs’ (1989)

costly state falsification. The main difference here is that the falsifying and verifying comes

before income is realized, not after.

More importantly, we hope our findings inform the current, very real-world debate,

around predatory lending. The stakes in that debate are high: millions of lower income

households borrow regularly from thousands of payday loan offices around the country. If

payday lenders raise household welfare by relaxing credit constraints, anti-predatory legislation

may lower it.

Payday lenders make small, short-term loans to households. The typical loan is about $300

for two weeks. The typical fee is $15 per $100 borrowed. Lenders require two recent pay

stubs (as proof of employment), and a recent bank account statement. Borrowers secure

the loan with a post-dated personal check for the loan amount plus fees. When the loan

matures, lenders deposit the check.

Payday lending evolved from check cashing much like bank lending evolved from deposit

taking. For a fee, check cashiers turn personal paychecks into cash. After cashing several

paychecks for the same customer, lending against f uture paychecks was a natural next step.

High finance charges is the main criticism against payday lenders. The typical fee of $15

per $100 per two weeks implies an annual interest rate of 15x365/14, or 390 percent. Payday

lenders are also criticize for overlending, in the sense that borrowers often refinance their

loans repeatedly, and for ”targeting” women making the transition from welfare-to-work

(Fox and Mierzewski 2001) and soldiers (Graves and Peterson 2004).

Despite their critics, payday lending has boomed. The number of payday advance offices

grew from 0 in 1990 to 14, 000 in 2003 (Stegman and Harris 2003). The industry originated

$8 to $14 billion in loans in 2000, implying 26-47 million individual loans. Rapid entry

suggests the industry is profitable.

Payday lenders present stiff competition for pawnshops, even though the internet, namely

E-bay, significantly foreclosure costs for pawnshops (Caskey 2003). The number of pawn

shops in the U.S. grew about six percent per year between 1986 and 1996, but growth

essentially stalled from 1997 to 2003. Prices of shares in EZCorp, the largest, publicly

traded pawn shop holder, were essentially flat or declining between 1994 and 2004, while

Ace Cash Express share prices, a retail financial firm selling check cashing and payday loans,

rose substantially over that period (Figure 4). EZCorp CEO, Joseph Rotunday, blamed

payday lenders for pawnshops’ dismal performance:

The company had been progressing very nicely until the late 1990s.... (when)

a new product called payroll advance/payday loans came along and provided our

customer base an alternative choice. Many of them elected the payday loan over

the traditional pawn loan. (Quoted by Caskey (2003) p.14).

Payday lending is heavily regulated (Table 1). As of 2001, eighteen states effectively

prohibited payday loans via usury limits, and most other states prices, loan size, and loan

frequency per customer (Fox and Mierzwinski 2001). Note that the payday loan limit ranges

from 0 (where payday loans are illegal) to 1250. Nine states allow unlimited payday loans.

Payday lenders have circumvented usury limits by affiliating with national or state

chartered banks, but the Comptroller of the Currency—the overseer of nationally chartered

banks–recently banned such affiliations. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation still

permits payday lenders to affiliate with state banks, but recently restricted those partnerships

(Graves and Peterson 2005).

Regulatory risk—the threat of costly or disabling legislation in the future—looms large for

Payday lenders. The Utah legislature is reconsidering its permissive laws governing payday

lending. North Carolina recently drove payday lenders from the state by expressly outlawing

the practice.

Heavy regulation increases the cost of payday lending. High regulatory risk increases limits

entry into the industry and increases the expected return required by industry investors.

Driving up costs and driving away investors may be exactly what regulators intended if they

view payday lending as predatory.
We define predatory lending as a welfare reducing provision of credit. Households can be

made worse off by borrowing if lenders can deceive households into borrowing more than is

optimal. Excess borrowing reduces household welfare, and may increase default risk.

We illustrate our concept of predatory lending in a standard model of household borrowing.

Before we get to predatory lending, we review basic principles about welfare improving

lending, the type that lets households maintain their consumption despite fluctuations in

their income.

The model has two periods: today (period zero) and payday (period one. Household income

goes up and down periodically, but not randomly (for now): income equals zero today

and y on payday. If households consume Ct in period t, their utility is U (Ct).Household welfare

is the sum of utility over both periods: U (C0)+δU (C1), where δ equals the household’s

time rate of discount. Households with high δ value current consumption highly relative to

future consumption. In other words, high discounters are impatient.

A digression here on discount rates serves later discussion. In classical economics δ is

constant. If δ changes over time, so does household behavior, even if nothing else changes.

If δ(t) is hyperbolic, households will postpone unpleasant tasks until current consumption

does not seem so precious relative to future consumption (Laibson 1997). With hyperbolic

discounting, that day never arrives, so hyperbolic discounters have behavioral problems: they

procrastinate. They may never repay debt, much less begin saving. Hyperbolic discounters

who start smoking may never quit.

Returning to the model, if the marginal utility of consumption (U 0) is diminishing, households

will demand credit to reduce fluctuations in their standard of living. Households

without credit, however, must fend for themselves (autarky). Welfare under autarky equals



U(0)+δU (y). The fluctuations in consumption for households without credit make autarky

a possible worst case, and hence, a good benchmark for comparing cases with credit.

If households borrow B at interest rate r, welfare equals U (B) + δU (y − (1 + r)B).

Borrowing increases utility in period zero, when the proceeds are consumed, but lowers utility

in period one, when households pay for their borrowing. Rational, informed households trade

off the good and bad side of borrowing; they borrow until the marginal utility of consuming

another unit today just equals the marginal, discounted disutility of repaying the extra debt

on payday:



U 0(B) = δ(1 + r)U 0(y − (1 + r)B). (1)

Equation (1) determines household loan demand as a function of their income, their

discount rate, and the market interest rate: B(y, δ, r). For standard utility functions,

household loan demand is increasing in income and decreasing in the discount factor and

interest rate: By > 0; Bδ < 0; Br < 0. Household welfare with optimal borrowing equals



U (B(y, r, d))+δU (y − (1+r)B(y, r, δ)). As long as households follow (1), their welfare with

positive borrowing must be higher than without (autarky).

The welfare gain from borrowing depends on the cost of credit production. Suppose the

cost of lending $B to a particular household equals (1 + ρ)B + f, where ρ represents the

opportunity cost per unit loaned and f is the fixed cost per loan. Think of f as the cost

of record-keeping and credit check required for each loan, however large or small the loan

may be. If the going price for loans is (1+r) per unit borrowed, the lenders’ profits equal

(r − ρ)B − f.



With perfect competition among lenders, the loan interest rate is competed down until

it just covers the costs of the loan: r = ρ + f /B. Equilibrium r and B are determined

where that credit supply curve equals demand (1).

Equilibrium in the payday credit market is illustrated in Figure (3). If fixed costs per loan

are prohibitively high, the market may not exist. Perhaps the payday lending technology

lowered the fixed cost per loan enough to make the business viable.3 Before the advent of

payday lending, households who applied to banks for a very small, short-term loan may have

been denied.

Fixed costs per loan imply that smaller loans will cost more per dollar borrowed than

larger loans. That means households with low credit demand will pay higher rates than

households with high loan demand. Loan demand is increasing in income, so high income

households who demand larger quantities of credit will enjoy a ”quantity” discount, while

lower income households will pay a ”small lot” premium, or penalty. That price ”discrimination”

is not invidious, however; the higher cost of smaller loans reflects the fixed costs of

lending. The high price of payday loans may partly reflect the combination of fixed costs

and small loan amounts (Flannery and Samolyk 2005).

A usury limit lowers household welfare. Suppose the maximum legal interest rate is r.



At that maximum rate, the minimum loan that lenders’ cost is f /(r− ρ) = B. Low income

households with loan demand less than B face a beggar’s choice: borrow B at r or do not

borrow at all. Such households would be willing to pay more to to avoid going without

credit, so raising the usury limit would raise welfare for those households.

Competition is another key determinant of how much households gains from borrowing.



3Alternatively, or additionaly, the demand for small, short term loans may have increased in the mid

1990s. The welfare reform then almost certainly increased demand for such credit as households who once

”worked” at home for the government were forced to go to work in the market.

Even with no competition — monopoly—households cannot be worse off than under autarky.

The monopolist raises interest rates until the marginal revenue from higher rates equals the

marginal cost from lower loan demand:



B(y, r) = −(r − ρ)Br(y, r). (2)

At that monopoly interest rate, rm, household loan demand equals B(y, rm).Household welfare

under monopoly equals U (Br(y, rm))+δU (y −(1+rm)Br(y, rm)). Welfare is lower under

monopoly because credit costs more and their standard of living fluctuates more (because

costly credit reduces their demand for credit) If households borrow from the monopolist,

however, they must better off than without credit.

In sum, welfare for rational households is highest if credit is available at competitive

prices. If households choose to borrow, they must be at least as well off as they were

without credit. Limiting loan rates cannot raise household welfare and may reduce it.

Monopoly lenders lower household welfare, but even with a monopolist, households cannot

be worse off than without credit.

The high cost of payday lending may partly reflect fixed costs per loan. Before payday

lending, those fixed costs may have been prohibitive; very small, short-term loans may not

have been worthwhile for banks. The payday lending technology may have lowered those



fixed costs, thus increasing the supply of credit to low income households demanding small

loans. That version of the genesis of payday lending suggests the innovation was welfare

improving, not predatory.





In the textbook model household welfare cannot be lower than under autarky because households

are fully informed and rational. Here we show households how can be made worse off



than without credit if predatory lenders can delude households about their (households’)

future income.

Suppose that by spending C(τ ), lenders can convince a prospective borrower that her

income on payday will be y +τ. The cost C can be interpreted variously as the cost of a guilty



A payday loan is a short-term loan that you promise to pay back from your next pay cheque. A payday loan is sometimes also called a payday advance.

Normally, you have to pay back a payday loan on or before your next payday (usually in two weeks or less). The amount you can borrow is usually limited to 30 percent of the net amount of your pay cheque. The net amount of your pay cheque is your total pay, after any deductions such as income taxes. For example, if your pay cheque is $1,000 net every two weeks, your payday loan could be for a maximum of $300 ($1,000 x 30%).

Before giving you a payday loan, lenders will ask for proof that you have a regular income, a permanent address and an active bank account. Some payday lenders also require that you be over the age of 18.

To make sure you pay back the loan, all payday lenders will ask you to provide a postdated cheque or to authorize a direct withdrawal from your bank account for the amount of the loan, plus all the different fees and interest charges that will be added to the original amount of the loan. The combination of multiple fees and interest charges are what make payday loans so expensive (Click here for an explanation of the various fees associated with these types of loans.

The lender should also ask you to sign a loan agreement. If the lender does not offer to give you a copy of the loan agreement, ask for one. Read this document carefully before signing it, and keep a copy for your records

How and when do I pay back the loan?
A payday loan agreement usually says that you must pay the total amount you owe for the loan on or before the date stated in your loan agreement. This includes the amount you borrowed, plus interest and any additional fees and charges.

Some lenders will cash your postdated cheque or process your direct withdrawal on the day the loan is due. However, some lenders may require that you pay the loan in cash, on or before the due date.

If you have not paid the loan in cash by the due date, some lenders may cash your cheque or process the direct withdrawal you signed on the day after your loan's due date, and charge you another fee. Ask the lender what the most inexpensive way is for you to repay your loan.

How does a payday loan affect my credit report?
Credit-reporting agencies collect information on whether or not you make your payments on time. This information, also called your "credit history", is part of your credit report and is used to calculate your credit score.

Making payments on time can help improve your credit score by demonstrating that you are able to manage your debt. Even if you have poor credit, you can rebuild it by using a credit card or other type of credit and paying back the money you owe on time.

This is not the case with payday loans. Since payday lenders are not currently members of the main credit-reporting agencies, getting a payday loan and paying it off on time will not improve your credit score. However, if you do not pay your loan back on time and it is sent to a collection agency, this will likely be reported to a credit-reporting agency and could have a negative impact on your credit report.

How much will a payday loan cost?
A payday loan is much more expensive than most other types of loans offered by financial institutions such as banks or credit unions. Before you apply for a payday loan, find out about all the fees and charges you will have to pay — including the fees you will be charged if you cannot repay the loan on time. The fees may not be easy to see right away, so read the agreement carefully before signing it. If you do not receive an explanation of all of the fees, charges and interest that will apply to the loan, or if you are not satisfied with the explanation you receive, do not sign the loan agreement.

How does the cost of a payday loan compare with other credit products?
Payday loans are much more expensive than other types of loans, including credit cards. But how much are you really paying? How does the cost of a payday loan compare with taking a cash advance on a credit card, using overdraft protection on your bank account or borrowing on a line of credit?

Let's compare the cost of using different types of loans. We'll assume that you borrow $300, for 14 days. Note the considerable difference in the cost of each type of loan.

Things to consider before you apply for a payday loan
Even if you think you may be turned down, ask your bank or credit union for overdraft protection on your bank account, or a line of credit. These are relatively inexpensive ways of obtaining access to extra funds, for short-term use.


If you are turned down for any of these credit options, ask why. If the reason is that you have a poor credit history, contact the three credit-reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Read the reports carefully to make sure that all of the information in it is correct. If you find any errors, contact the credit-reporting agency to find out how you can have the information corrected. The three major credit-reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax Canada, TransUnion Canada and Northern Credit Bureaus. All three of these agencies will give you a copy of your credit report for free if you request that it be sent to you by regular mail.


Ask yourself if you really need to take out a loan, or whether you can get by until your next pay cheque. If you need the money immediately, try to make other arrangements. For example, you may be able to cash in vacation days. Or you might consider getting a short-term loan from a family member or a friend.


If you find that you need to apply for a payday loan because you have no alternative, only borrow an amount that you are 100 percent sure you can repay on the due date of the loan.


Don't borrow more than you need.

Things to consider if you take out a payday loan
Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Read carefully — and take home with you — a copy of the loan agreement that you are being asked to sign. Don't feel pressured to sign the loan agreement right away if you have questions and want more time to read through the agreement on your own. If the lender does not want to give you a copy of the agreement, look for another lender.


Be sure to ask about all the fees, charges and interest that apply when you first get the loan, and what other charges you will owe if you can't pay the loan back on time.


If you are taking out a payday loan at another location to pay back the first payday loan, or you are extending or "rolling over" the loan that you had with the same lender, you could find yourself in serious financial difficulty. The fees, charges and interest will add up quickly on these types of loans, which can put you into serious debt.
How can I figure out the cost of each type of loan?
To estimate the total cost of a loan, including the annual cost of the loan expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed, follow the steps below.

Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. First, find out the annual interest rate that applies to the loan (if there is one). Figure out the daily interest rate by dividing the annual interest rate of the loan by 365 days. Then, multiply that rate by the length of time you are taking the loan. Finally, multiply the result by the amount you will borrow, in dollars:


Amount of interest

= Annual interest rate

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
365 days × Length of the loan
(number of days) × Amount of the loan

Step 2:

Determine the total cost of the loan by adding any fees that may apply to the interest you will have to pay. Find out what fees apply to the loan and add them to the cost of the interest, found in Step 1:


Total cost of the loan = Amount of interest + Total fees


Step 3:

Estimate the annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. First, divide the total cost of the loan, found in Step 2, by the amount of the loan. Then, divide this rate by the length of time you are taking the loan (in days) and multiply it by 365 (the number of days in the year):


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days

Let's find out the cost of a $300 payday loan, taken for 14 days.

We'll assume that the lender charges you a one-time set-up fee of $10 and a service fee of $40, which includes interest on the loan.


Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. In this case, there is no interest fee. The interest is therefore $0.


Step 2:

Figure out the cost of the loan by adding together any fees that apply and the interest you will have to pay. In this case, you would add the $10 set-up fee and the $40 service fee together:

$10 + $40 = $50


Step 3:

Estimate the total annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed:


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days
= $50
———— ÷ 14 days × 365 days
$300
= 4.35 or approximately 435%

The total cost of the payday loan would be $50 with an annual cost of 435 percent of the amount borrowed.






Information asymmetries are common in credit market models, but the usual assumption,

at least in commercial lending, is that borrowers are the better informed party and that

lenders have to screen and monitor to assess whether firms are creditworthy. The opposite

asymmetry, as we assume here, does not seem implausible in the context of consumer lending.

“Fringe” borrowers are less educated than mainstream borrowers (Caskey 2003), and many

are first-time borrowers (or are rebounding from a failed first foray into credit). Lenders

know from experience with large numbers of borrowers, whereas the borrower may only have

their own experience to guide them. Credit can also be confusing; after marriage, mortgages

are probably the most complicated contract most people ever enter. Given the subtleties

involved with credit, and the supposed lack of sophistication of sub-prime borrowers, our

assumption that lenders know better seems plausible.

While lenders might deceive households about several variables that influence household

loan demand, we focus on income. We suppose that lenders exaggerate household’s future

income in order boost loan demand. Our borrowers are gullible, in the sense that they can

be fooled about their future income, but they borrow rationally given their beliefs. Fooling

borrowers is costly to lenders, where the costs could represent conscience, technological costs

(of learning the pitch), or risk of prosecution. The upside to exaggerating borrowers’ income

prospects is obvious—they borrow more. As long as the extra borrowing does not increase

default risk too much, and as long as deceiving borrowers is easy enough, income deception

and predatory—welfare reducing—lending may occur.

After defining predatory lending, we test whether payday lending fits our definition. Payday

lenders make small, short-term loans to mostly lower-middle income households. The

business is booming, but critics condemn payday lending, especially the high fees and frequent

loan rollovers, as predatory. Many states prohibit payday loans outright, or indirectly,

via usury limits.

To test whether payday lending qualifies as predatory, we compared debt and delinquency

rates for households in states that allow payday lending to those in states that do not. We

focus especially on differences across states households that, according to our model, seem

more vulnerable to predation: households with more income uncertainly or less education.

We use smoking as a third, more ambiguous, proxy for households with high, or perhaps

hyperbolic, discount rates. In general, high discounters will pay higher future costs for a

given, immediate, gain in welfare. Smokers’ seem to fit that description. What makes the

smoking proxy ambiguous is that smokers may have hyperbolic, not just high, discount rates.

Hyperbolic discount rates decline over time in a way that leads to procrastination and selfcontrol

problems (Laibson 1997). The hyperbolic discounter postpones quitting smoking,

or repaying credit. Without knowing whether smokers discount rates are merely high, or

hyperbolic, we will not be able to say whether any extra debt for smokers in payday states

is welfare reducing.2

Given those proxies, we use a difference-in-difference approach to test whether payday

lending fits our definition of predatory. First we look for differences in household debt

and delinquency across payday states and non-payday states, then we test whether those

difference are higher for potential prey. To ensure that any such differences are not merely

state effects, we difference a third time across time by comparing whether those differences

changed after the advent of payday lending circa 1995. That triple difference identifies any

difference in debt and delinquency for potential prey in payday states after payday lending

was introduced.

Our findings seem mostly inconsistent with the hypothesis that payday lenders prey on,

i.e., lower the welfare of, households with uncertain income or households with less education.

Those types of households who happen to live in states that allow unlimited payday loans

are less likely to report being turned down for credit, but are not more likely, by and large,

to report higher debt levels, contrary to the overborrowing prediction of our model. Nor are

such households more likely to have missed a debt payment in the previous year. On the

contrary, households with uncertain income who live in states with unlimited payday loans

are less likely to have missed a debt payment over the previous year. The latter result is

consistent with claims by defenders of payday lending that some households borrow from

2Consistent with a high discount rate, Munasinghe and Sicherman (2000) discover that smokers have

flatter wage profiles and they are willing to trade more future earnings for a given increase in current earnings.

Gruber and Mulainathan (2002) find that high cigarette taxes make smokers ”happier,” consistent with

hypberbolic discount rates (because taxes help smokers commit to quitting). DellaVigna and Malmendier

(2004) show how credit card lenders can manipulate hyperbolic discounters by front-loading benefits and

back-loading costs.

payday lenders to avoid missing payments on other debt. On the whole, our results seem

consistent with the hypothesis that payday lending represents a legitimate increase in the

supply of credit, not a contrived increase in credit demand.

We find some interesting differences for smokers, but those differences are harder to

interpret in relation to the predatory hypothesis without knowing apriori whether smokers

are hyperbolic, or merely high, discounters.

We also find, using a small set of data from different sources, that payday loan rates

and fees decline significantly as the number of payday lenders and pawnshops increase.

Reformers often advocate usury limits to lower payday loan fees but our evidence suggests

that competition among payday lenders (and pawnshops) works to lower payday loan prices.

Our paper has several cousins in the academic literature. Ausubel (1991) argues that

credit card lenders exploit their superior information about household credit demand in their

marketing and pricing of credit cards. The predators in our model profit from their information

advantage as well. Our concept of income delusion or deception also has a behavioral

flavor, as well, hence our use of smoking as a proxy for self-control problems. Brunnermeier

and Parker (2004), for example, imagine that households choose what to expect about future

income (or other outcomes). High hopes give households’ current “felicity,” even if it

distorts borrowing and other income-dependent decisions. Our households have high hopes

for income, and they make bad borrowing decisions, but we do not count the current felicity

from high hopes as an offset to the welfare loss from overborrowing.

Our costly falsification (of household income prospects) and costly verification (by counselors)

resemble Townsend’s (1979) costly state verification and Lacker andWeinbergs’ (1989)

costly state falsification. The main difference here is that the falsifying and verifying comes

before income is realized, not after.

More importantly, we hope our findings inform the current, very real-world debate,

around predatory lending. The stakes in that debate are high: millions of lower income

households borrow regularly from thousands of payday loan offices around the country. If

payday lenders raise household welfare by relaxing credit constraints, anti-predatory legislation

may lower it.

Payday lenders make small, short-term loans to households. The typical loan is about $300

for two weeks. The typical fee is $15 per $100 borrowed. Lenders require two recent pay

stubs (as proof of employment), and a recent bank account statement. Borrowers secure

the loan with a post-dated personal check for the loan amount plus fees. When the loan

matures, lenders deposit the check.

Payday lending evolved from check cashing much like bank lending evolved from deposit

taking. For a fee, check cashiers turn personal paychecks into cash. After cashing several

paychecks for the same customer, lending against f uture paychecks was a natural next step.

High finance charges is the main criticism against payday lenders. The typical fee of $15

per $100 per two weeks implies an annual interest rate of 15x365/14, or 390 percent. Payday

lenders are also criticize for overlending, in the sense that borrowers often refinance their

loans repeatedly, and for ”targeting” women making the transition from welfare-to-work

(Fox and Mierzewski 2001) and soldiers (Graves and Peterson 2004).

Despite their critics, payday lending has boomed. The number of payday advance offices

grew from 0 in 1990 to 14, 000 in 2003 (Stegman and Harris 2003). The industry originated

$8 to $14 billion in loans in 2000, implying 26-47 million individual loans. Rapid entry

suggests the industry is profitable.

Payday lenders present stiff competition for pawnshops, even though the internet, namely

E-bay, significantly foreclosure costs for pawnshops (Caskey 2003). The number of pawn

shops in the U.S. grew about six percent per year between 1986 and 1996, but growth

essentially stalled from 1997 to 2003. Prices of shares in EZCorp, the largest, publicly

traded pawn shop holder, were essentially flat or declining between 1994 and 2004, while

Ace Cash Express share prices, a retail financial firm selling check cashing and payday loans,

rose substantially over that period (Figure 4). EZCorp CEO, Joseph Rotunday, blamed

payday lenders for pawnshops’ dismal performance:

The company had been progressing very nicely until the late 1990s.... (when)

a new product called payroll advance/payday loans came along and provided our

customer base an alternative choice. Many of them elected the payday loan over

the traditional pawn loan. (Quoted by Caskey (2003) p.14).

Payday lending is heavily regulated (Table 1). As of 2001, eighteen states effectively

prohibited payday loans via usury limits, and most other states prices, loan size, and loan

frequency per customer (Fox and Mierzwinski 2001). Note that the payday loan limit ranges

from 0 (where payday loans are illegal) to 1250. Nine states allow unlimited payday loans.

Payday lenders have circumvented usury limits by affiliating with national or state

chartered banks, but the Comptroller of the Currency—the overseer of nationally chartered

banks–recently banned such affiliations. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation still

permits payday lenders to affiliate with state banks, but recently restricted those partnerships

(Graves and Peterson 2005).

Regulatory risk—the threat of costly or disabling legislation in the future—looms large for

Payday lenders. The Utah legislature is reconsidering its permissive laws governing payday

lending. North Carolina recently drove payday lenders from the state by expressly outlawing

the practice.

Heavy regulation increases the cost of payday lending. High regulatory risk increases limits

entry into the industry and increases the expected return required by industry investors.

Driving up costs and driving away investors may be exactly what regulators intended if they

view payday lending as predatory.
We define predatory lending as a welfare reducing provision of credit. Households can be

made worse off by borrowing if lenders can deceive households into borrowing more than is

optimal. Excess borrowing reduces household welfare, and may increase default risk.

We illustrate our concept of predatory lending in a standard model of household borrowing.

Before we get to predatory lending, we review basic principles about welfare improving

lending, the type that lets households maintain their consumption despite fluctuations in

their income.

The model has two periods: today (period zero) and payday (period one. Household income

goes up and down periodically, but not randomly (for now): income equals zero today

and y on payday. If households consume Ct in period t, their utility is U (Ct).Household welfare

is the sum of utility over both periods: U (C0)+δU (C1), where δ equals the household’s

time rate of discount. Households with high δ value current consumption highly relative to

future consumption. In other words, high discounters are impatient.

A digression here on discount rates serves later discussion. In classical economics δ is

constant. If δ changes over time, so does household behavior, even if nothing else changes.

If δ(t) is hyperbolic, households will postpone unpleasant tasks until current consumption

does not seem so precious relative to future consumption (Laibson 1997). With hyperbolic

discounting, that day never arrives, so hyperbolic discounters have behavioral problems: they

procrastinate. They may never repay debt, much less begin saving. Hyperbolic discounters

who start smoking may never quit.

Returning to the model, if the marginal utility of consumption (U 0) is diminishing, households

will demand credit to reduce fluctuations in their standard of living. Households

without credit, however, must fend for themselves (autarky). Welfare under autarky equals



U(0)+δU (y). The fluctuations in consumption for households without credit make autarky

a possible worst case, and hence, a good benchmark for comparing cases with credit.

If households borrow B at interest rate r, welfare equals U (B) + δU (y − (1 + r)B).

Borrowing increases utility in period zero, when the proceeds are consumed, but lowers utility

in period one, when households pay for their borrowing. Rational, informed households trade

off the good and bad side of borrowing; they borrow until the marginal utility of consuming

another unit today just equals the marginal, discounted disutility of repaying the extra debt

on payday:



U 0(B) = δ(1 + r)U 0(y − (1 + r)B). (1)

Equation (1) determines household loan demand as a function of their income, their

discount rate, and the market interest rate: B(y, δ, r). For standard utility functions,

household loan demand is increasing in income and decreasing in the discount factor and

interest rate: By > 0; Bδ < 0; Br < 0. Household welfare with optimal borrowing equals



U (B(y, r, d))+δU (y − (1+r)B(y, r, δ)). As long as households follow (1), their welfare with

positive borrowing must be higher than without (autarky).

The welfare gain from borrowing depends on the cost of credit production. Suppose the

cost of lending $B to a particular household equals (1 + ρ)B + f, where ρ represents the

opportunity cost per unit loaned and f is the fixed cost per loan. Think of f as the cost

of record-keeping and credit check required for each loan, however large or small the loan

may be. If the going price for loans is (1+r) per unit borrowed, the lenders’ profits equal

(r − ρ)B − f.



With perfect competition among lenders, the loan interest rate is competed down until

it just covers the costs of the loan: r = ρ + f /B. Equilibrium r and B are determined

where that credit supply curve equals demand (1).

Equilibrium in the payday credit market is illustrated in Figure (3). If fixed costs per loan

are prohibitively high, the market may not exist. Perhaps the payday lending technology

lowered the fixed cost per loan enough to make the business viable.3 Before the advent of

payday lending, households who applied to banks for a very small, short-term loan may have

been denied.

Fixed costs per loan imply that smaller loans will cost more per dollar borrowed than

larger loans. That means households with low credit demand will pay higher rates than

households with high loan demand. Loan demand is increasing in income, so high income

households who demand larger quantities of credit will enjoy a ”quantity” discount, while

lower income households will pay a ”small lot” premium, or penalty. That price ”discrimination”

is not invidious, however; the higher cost of smaller loans reflects the fixed costs of

lending. The high price of payday loans may partly reflect the combination of fixed costs

and small loan amounts (Flannery and Samolyk 2005).

A usury limit lowers household welfare. Suppose the maximum legal interest rate is r.



At that maximum rate, the minimum loan that lenders’ cost is f /(r− ρ) = B. Low income

households with loan demand less than B face a beggar’s choice: borrow B at r or do not

borrow at all. Such households would be willing to pay more to to avoid going without

credit, so raising the usury limit would raise welfare for those households.

Competition is another key determinant of how much households gains from borrowing.



3Alternatively, or additionaly, the demand for small, short term loans may have increased in the mid

1990s. The welfare reform then almost certainly increased demand for such credit as households who once

”worked” at home for the government were forced to go to work in the market.

Even with no competition — monopoly—households cannot be worse off than under autarky.

The monopolist raises interest rates until the marginal revenue from higher rates equals the

marginal cost from lower loan demand:



B(y, r) = −(r − ρ)Br(y, r). (2)

At that monopoly interest rate, rm, household loan demand equals B(y, rm).Household welfare

under monopoly equals U (Br(y, rm))+δU (y −(1+rm)Br(y, rm)). Welfare is lower under

monopoly because credit costs more and their standard of living fluctuates more (because

costly credit reduces their demand for credit) If households borrow from the monopolist,

however, they must better off than without credit.

In sum, welfare for rational households is highest if credit is available at competitive

prices. If households choose to borrow, they must be at least as well off as they were

without credit. Limiting loan rates cannot raise household welfare and may reduce it.

Monopoly lenders lower household welfare, but even with a monopolist, households cannot

be worse off than without credit.

The high cost of payday lending may partly reflect fixed costs per loan. Before payday

lending, those fixed costs may have been prohibitive; very small, short-term loans may not

have been worthwhile for banks. The payday lending technology may have lowered those



fixed costs, thus increasing the supply of credit to low income households demanding small

loans. That version of the genesis of payday lending suggests the innovation was welfare

improving, not predatory.





In the textbook model household welfare cannot be lower than under autarky because households

are fully informed and rational. Here we show households how can be made worse off



than without credit if predatory lenders can delude households about their (households’)

future income.

Suppose that by spending C(τ ), lenders can convince a prospective borrower that her

income on payday will be y +τ. The cost C can be interpreted variously as the cost of a guilty



A payday loan is a short-term loan that you promise to pay back from your next pay cheque. A payday loan is sometimes also called a payday advance.

Normally, you have to pay back a payday loan on or before your next payday (usually in two weeks or less). The amount you can borrow is usually limited to 30 percent of the net amount of your pay cheque. The net amount of your pay cheque is your total pay, after any deductions such as income taxes. For example, if your pay cheque is $1,000 net every two weeks, your payday loan could be for a maximum of $300 ($1,000 x 30%).

Before giving you a payday loan, lenders will ask for proof that you have a regular income, a permanent address and an active bank account. Some payday lenders also require that you be over the age of 18.

To make sure you pay back the loan, all payday lenders will ask you to provide a postdated cheque or to authorize a direct withdrawal from your bank account for the amount of the loan, plus all the different fees and interest charges that will be added to the original amount of the loan. The combination of multiple fees and interest charges are what make payday loans so expensive (Click here for an explanation of the various fees associated with these types of loans.

The lender should also ask you to sign a loan agreement. If the lender does not offer to give you a copy of the loan agreement, ask for one. Read this document carefully before signing it, and keep a copy for your records

How and when do I pay back the loan?
A payday loan agreement usually says that you must pay the total amount you owe for the loan on or before the date stated in your loan agreement. This includes the amount you borrowed, plus interest and any additional fees and charges.

Some lenders will cash your postdated cheque or process your direct withdrawal on the day the loan is due. However, some lenders may require that you pay the loan in cash, on or before the due date.

If you have not paid the loan in cash by the due date, some lenders may cash your cheque or process the direct withdrawal you signed on the day after your loan's due date, and charge you another fee. Ask the lender what the most inexpensive way is for you to repay your loan.

How does a payday loan affect my credit report?
Credit-reporting agencies collect information on whether or not you make your payments on time. This information, also called your "credit history", is part of your credit report and is used to calculate your credit score.

Making payments on time can help improve your credit score by demonstrating that you are able to manage your debt. Even if you have poor credit, you can rebuild it by using a credit card or other type of credit and paying back the money you owe on time.

This is not the case with payday loans. Since payday lenders are not currently members of the main credit-reporting agencies, getting a payday loan and paying it off on time will not improve your credit score. However, if you do not pay your loan back on time and it is sent to a collection agency, this will likely be reported to a credit-reporting agency and could have a negative impact on your credit report.

How much will a payday loan cost?
A payday loan is much more expensive than most other types of loans offered by financial institutions such as banks or credit unions. Before you apply for a payday loan, find out about all the fees and charges you will have to pay — including the fees you will be charged if you cannot repay the loan on time. The fees may not be easy to see right away, so read the agreement carefully before signing it. If you do not receive an explanation of all of the fees, charges and interest that will apply to the loan, or if you are not satisfied with the explanation you receive, do not sign the loan agreement.

How does the cost of a payday loan compare with other credit products?
Payday loans are much more expensive than other types of loans, including credit cards. But how much are you really paying? How does the cost of a payday loan compare with taking a cash advance on a credit card, using overdraft protection on your bank account or borrowing on a line of credit?

Let's compare the cost of using different types of loans. We'll assume that you borrow $300, for 14 days. Note the considerable difference in the cost of each type of loan.

Things to consider before you apply for a payday loan
Even if you think you may be turned down, ask your bank or credit union for overdraft protection on your bank account, or a line of credit. These are relatively inexpensive ways of obtaining access to extra funds, for short-term use.


If you are turned down for any of these credit options, ask why. If the reason is that you have a poor credit history, contact the three credit-reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Read the reports carefully to make sure that all of the information in it is correct. If you find any errors, contact the credit-reporting agency to find out how you can have the information corrected. The three major credit-reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax Canada, TransUnion Canada and Northern Credit Bureaus. All three of these agencies will give you a copy of your credit report for free if you request that it be sent to you by regular mail.


Ask yourself if you really need to take out a loan, or whether you can get by until your next pay cheque. If you need the money immediately, try to make other arrangements. For example, you may be able to cash in vacation days. Or you might consider getting a short-term loan from a family member or a friend.


If you find that you need to apply for a payday loan because you have no alternative, only borrow an amount that you are 100 percent sure you can repay on the due date of the loan.


Don't borrow more than you need.

Things to consider if you take out a payday loan
Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Read carefully — and take home with you — a copy of the loan agreement that you are being asked to sign. Don't feel pressured to sign the loan agreement right away if you have questions and want more time to read through the agreement on your own. If the lender does not want to give you a copy of the agreement, look for another lender.


Be sure to ask about all the fees, charges and interest that apply when you first get the loan, and what other charges you will owe if you can't pay the loan back on time.


If you are taking out a payday loan at another location to pay back the first payday loan, or you are extending or "rolling over" the loan that you had with the same lender, you could find yourself in serious financial difficulty. The fees, charges and interest will add up quickly on these types of loans, which can put you into serious debt.
How can I figure out the cost of each type of loan?
To estimate the total cost of a loan, including the annual cost of the loan expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed, follow the steps below.

Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. First, find out the annual interest rate that applies to the loan (if there is one). Figure out the daily interest rate by dividing the annual interest rate of the loan by 365 days. Then, multiply that rate by the length of time you are taking the loan. Finally, multiply the result by the amount you will borrow, in dollars:


Amount of interest

= Annual interest rate

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
365 days × Length of the loan
(number of days) × Amount of the loan

Step 2:

Determine the total cost of the loan by adding any fees that may apply to the interest you will have to pay. Find out what fees apply to the loan and add them to the cost of the interest, found in Step 1:


Total cost of the loan = Amount of interest + Total fees


Step 3:

Estimate the annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. First, divide the total cost of the loan, found in Step 2, by the amount of the loan. Then, divide this rate by the length of time you are taking the loan (in days) and multiply it by 365 (the number of days in the year):


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days

Let's find out the cost of a $300 payday loan, taken for 14 days.

We'll assume that the lender charges you a one-time set-up fee of $10 and a service fee of $40, which includes interest on the loan.


Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. In this case, there is no interest fee. The interest is therefore $0.


Step 2:

Figure out the cost of the loan by adding together any fees that apply and the interest you will have to pay. In this case, you would add the $10 set-up fee and the $40 service fee together:

$10 + $40 = $50


Step 3:

Estimate the total annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed:


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days
= $50
———— ÷ 14 days × 365 days
$300
= 4.35 or approximately 435%

The total cost of the payday loan would be $50 with an annual cost of 435 percent of the amount borrowed.






Information asymmetries are common in credit market models, but the usual assumption,

at least in commercial lending, is that borrowers are the better informed party and that

lenders have to screen and monitor to assess whether firms are creditworthy. The opposite

asymmetry, as we assume here, does not seem implausible in the context of consumer lending.

“Fringe” borrowers are less educated than mainstream borrowers (Caskey 2003), and many

are first-time borrowers (or are rebounding from a failed first foray into credit). Lenders

know from experience with large numbers of borrowers, whereas the borrower may only have

their own experience to guide them. Credit can also be confusing; after marriage, mortgages

are probably the most complicated contract most people ever enter. Given the subtleties

involved with credit, and the supposed lack of sophistication of sub-prime borrowers, our

assumption that lenders know better seems plausible.

While lenders might deceive households about several variables that influence household

loan demand, we focus on income. We suppose that lenders exaggerate household’s future

income in order boost loan demand. Our borrowers are gullible, in the sense that they can

be fooled about their future income, but they borrow rationally given their beliefs. Fooling

borrowers is costly to lenders, where the costs could represent conscience, technological costs

(of learning the pitch), or risk of prosecution. The upside to exaggerating borrowers’ income

prospects is obvious—they borrow more. As long as the extra borrowing does not increase

default risk too much, and as long as deceiving borrowers is easy enough, income deception

and predatory—welfare reducing—lending may occur.

After defining predatory lending, we test whether payday lending fits our definition. Payday

lenders make small, short-term loans to mostly lower-middle income households. The

business is booming, but critics condemn payday lending, especially the high fees and frequent

loan rollovers, as predatory. Many states prohibit payday loans outright, or indirectly,

via usury limits.

To test whether payday lending qualifies as predatory, we compared debt and delinquency

rates for households in states that allow payday lending to those in states that do not. We

focus especially on differences across states households that, according to our model, seem

more vulnerable to predation: households with more income uncertainly or less education.

We use smoking as a third, more ambiguous, proxy for households with high, or perhaps

hyperbolic, discount rates. In general, high discounters will pay higher future costs for a

given, immediate, gain in welfare. Smokers’ seem to fit that description. What makes the

smoking proxy ambiguous is that smokers may have hyperbolic, not just high, discount rates.

Hyperbolic discount rates decline over time in a way that leads to procrastination and selfcontrol

problems (Laibson 1997). The hyperbolic discounter postpones quitting smoking,

or repaying credit. Without knowing whether smokers discount rates are merely high, or

hyperbolic, we will not be able to say whether any extra debt for smokers in payday states

is welfare reducing.2

Given those proxies, we use a difference-in-difference approach to test whether payday

lending fits our definition of predatory. First we look for differences in household debt

and delinquency across payday states and non-payday states, then we test whether those

difference are higher for potential prey. To ensure that any such differences are not merely

state effects, we difference a third time across time by comparing whether those differences

changed after the advent of payday lending circa 1995. That triple difference identifies any

difference in debt and delinquency for potential prey in payday states after payday lending

was introduced.

Our findings seem mostly inconsistent with the hypothesis that payday lenders prey on,

i.e., lower the welfare of, households with uncertain income or households with less education.

Those types of households who happen to live in states that allow unlimited payday loans

are less likely to report being turned down for credit, but are not more likely, by and large,

to report higher debt levels, contrary to the overborrowing prediction of our model. Nor are

such households more likely to have missed a debt payment in the previous year. On the

contrary, households with uncertain income who live in states with unlimited payday loans

are less likely to have missed a debt payment over the previous year. The latter result is

consistent with claims by defenders of payday lending that some households borrow from

2Consistent with a high discount rate, Munasinghe and Sicherman (2000) discover that smokers have

flatter wage profiles and they are willing to trade more future earnings for a given increase in current earnings.

Gruber and Mulainathan (2002) find that high cigarette taxes make smokers ”happier,” consistent with

hypberbolic discount rates (because taxes help smokers commit to quitting). DellaVigna and Malmendier

(2004) show how credit card lenders can manipulate hyperbolic discounters by front-loading benefits and

back-loading costs.

payday lenders to avoid missing payments on other debt. On the whole, our results seem

consistent with the hypothesis that payday lending represents a legitimate increase in the

supply of credit, not a contrived increase in credit demand.

We find some interesting differences for smokers, but those differences are harder to

interpret in relation to the predatory hypothesis without knowing apriori whether smokers

are hyperbolic, or merely high, discounters.

We also find, using a small set of data from different sources, that payday loan rates

and fees decline significantly as the number of payday lenders and pawnshops increase.

Reformers often advocate usury limits to lower payday loan fees but our evidence suggests

that competition among payday lenders (and pawnshops) works to lower payday loan prices.

Our paper has several cousins in the academic literature. Ausubel (1991) argues that

credit card lenders exploit their superior information about household credit demand in their

marketing and pricing of credit cards. The predators in our model profit from their information

advantage as well. Our concept of income delusion or deception also has a behavioral

flavor, as well, hence our use of smoking as a proxy for self-control problems. Brunnermeier

and Parker (2004), for example, imagine that households choose what to expect about future

income (or other outcomes). High hopes give households’ current “felicity,” even if it

distorts borrowing and other income-dependent decisions. Our households have high hopes

for income, and they make bad borrowing decisions, but we do not count the current felicity

from high hopes as an offset to the welfare loss from overborrowing.

Our costly falsification (of household income prospects) and costly verification (by counselors)

resemble Townsend’s (1979) costly state verification and Lacker andWeinbergs’ (1989)

costly state falsification. The main difference here is that the falsifying and verifying comes

before income is realized, not after.

More importantly, we hope our findings inform the current, very real-world debate,

around predatory lending. The stakes in that debate are high: millions of lower income

households borrow regularly from thousands of payday loan offices around the country. If

payday lenders raise household welfare by relaxing credit constraints, anti-predatory legislation

may lower it.

Payday lenders make small, short-term loans to households. The typical loan is about $300

for two weeks. The typical fee is $15 per $100 borrowed. Lenders require two recent pay

stubs (as proof of employment), and a recent bank account statement. Borrowers secure

the loan with a post-dated personal check for the loan amount plus fees. When the loan

matures, lenders deposit the check.

Payday lending evolved from check cashing much like bank lending evolved from deposit

taking. For a fee, check cashiers turn personal paychecks into cash. After cashing several

paychecks for the same customer, lending against f uture paychecks was a natural next step.

High finance charges is the main criticism against payday lenders. The typical fee of $15

per $100 per two weeks implies an annual interest rate of 15x365/14, or 390 percent. Payday

lenders are also criticize for overlending, in the sense that borrowers often refinance their

loans repeatedly, and for ”targeting” women making the transition from welfare-to-work

(Fox and Mierzewski 2001) and soldiers (Graves and Peterson 2004).

Despite their critics, payday lending has boomed. The number of payday advance offices

grew from 0 in 1990 to 14, 000 in 2003 (Stegman and Harris 2003). The industry originated

$8 to $14 billion in loans in 2000, implying 26-47 million individual loans. Rapid entry

suggests the industry is profitable.

Payday lenders present stiff competition for pawnshops, even though the internet, namely

E-bay, significantly foreclosure costs for pawnshops (Caskey 2003). The number of pawn

shops in the U.S. grew about six percent per year between 1986 and 1996, but growth

essentially stalled from 1997 to 2003. Prices of shares in EZCorp, the largest, publicly

traded pawn shop holder, were essentially flat or declining between 1994 and 2004, while

Ace Cash Express share prices, a retail financial firm selling check cashing and payday loans,

rose substantially over that period (Figure 4). EZCorp CEO, Joseph Rotunday, blamed

payday lenders for pawnshops’ dismal performance:

The company had been progressing very nicely until the late 1990s.... (when)

a new product called payroll advance/payday loans came along and provided our

customer base an alternative choice. Many of them elected the payday loan over

the traditional pawn loan. (Quoted by Caskey (2003) p.14).

Payday lending is heavily regulated (Table 1). As of 2001, eighteen states effectively

prohibited payday loans via usury limits, and most other states prices, loan size, and loan

frequency per customer (Fox and Mierzwinski 2001). Note that the payday loan limit ranges

from 0 (where payday loans are illegal) to 1250. Nine states allow unlimited payday loans.

Payday lenders have circumvented usury limits by affiliating with national or state

chartered banks, but the Comptroller of the Currency—the overseer of nationally chartered

banks–recently banned such affiliations. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation still

permits payday lenders to affiliate with state banks, but recently restricted those partnerships

(Graves and Peterson 2005).

Regulatory risk—the threat of costly or disabling legislation in the future—looms large for

Payday lenders. The Utah legislature is reconsidering its permissive laws governing payday

lending. North Carolina recently drove payday lenders from the state by expressly outlawing

the practice.

Heavy regulation increases the cost of payday lending. High regulatory risk increases limits

entry into the industry and increases the expected return required by industry investors.

Driving up costs and driving away investors may be exactly what regulators intended if they

view payday lending as predatory.
We define predatory lending as a welfare reducing provision of credit. Households can be

made worse off by borrowing if lenders can deceive households into borrowing more than is

optimal. Excess borrowing reduces household welfare, and may increase default risk.

We illustrate our concept of predatory lending in a standard model of household borrowing.

Before we get to predatory lending, we review basic principles about welfare improving

lending, the type that lets households maintain their consumption despite fluctuations in

their income.

The model has two periods: today (period zero) and payday (period one. Household income

goes up and down periodically, but not randomly (for now): income equals zero today

and y on payday. If households consume Ct in period t, their utility is U (Ct).Household welfare

is the sum of utility over both periods: U (C0)+δU (C1), where δ equals the household’s

time rate of discount. Households with high δ value current consumption highly relative to

future consumption. In other words, high discounters are impatient.

A digression here on discount rates serves later discussion. In classical economics δ is

constant. If δ changes over time, so does household behavior, even if nothing else changes.

If δ(t) is hyperbolic, households will postpone unpleasant tasks until current consumption

does not seem so precious relative to future consumption (Laibson 1997). With hyperbolic

discounting, that day never arrives, so hyperbolic discounters have behavioral problems: they

procrastinate. They may never repay debt, much less begin saving. Hyperbolic discounters

who start smoking may never quit.

Returning to the model, if the marginal utility of consumption (U 0) is diminishing, households

will demand credit to reduce fluctuations in their standard of living. Households

without credit, however, must fend for themselves (autarky). Welfare under autarky equals



U(0)+δU (y). The fluctuations in consumption for households without credit make autarky

a possible worst case, and hence, a good benchmark for comparing cases with credit.

If households borrow B at interest rate r, welfare equals U (B) + δU (y − (1 + r)B).

Borrowing increases utility in period zero, when the proceeds are consumed, but lowers utility

in period one, when households pay for their borrowing. Rational, informed households trade

off the good and bad side of borrowing; they borrow until the marginal utility of consuming

another unit today just equals the marginal, discounted disutility of repaying the extra debt

on payday:



U 0(B) = δ(1 + r)U 0(y − (1 + r)B). (1)

Equation (1) determines household loan demand as a function of their income, their

discount rate, and the market interest rate: B(y, δ, r). For standard utility functions,

household loan demand is increasing in income and decreasing in the discount factor and

interest rate: By > 0; Bδ < 0; Br < 0. Household welfare with optimal borrowing equals



U (B(y, r, d))+δU (y − (1+r)B(y, r, δ)). As long as households follow (1), their welfare with

positive borrowing must be higher than without (autarky).

The welfare gain from borrowing depends on the cost of credit production. Suppose the

cost of lending $B to a particular household equals (1 + ρ)B + f, where ρ represents the

opportunity cost per unit loaned and f is the fixed cost per loan. Think of f as the cost

of record-keeping and credit check required for each loan, however large or small the loan

may be. If the going price for loans is (1+r) per unit borrowed, the lenders’ profits equal

(r − ρ)B − f.



With perfect competition among lenders, the loan interest rate is competed down until

it just covers the costs of the loan: r = ρ + f /B. Equilibrium r and B are determined

where that credit supply curve equals demand (1).

Equilibrium in the payday credit market is illustrated in Figure (3). If fixed costs per loan

are prohibitively high, the market may not exist. Perhaps the payday lending technology

lowered the fixed cost per loan enough to make the business viable.3 Before the advent of

payday lending, households who applied to banks for a very small, short-term loan may have

been denied.

Fixed costs per loan imply that smaller loans will cost more per dollar borrowed than

larger loans. That means households with low credit demand will pay higher rates than

households with high loan demand. Loan demand is increasing in income, so high income

households who demand larger quantities of credit will enjoy a ”quantity” discount, while

lower income households will pay a ”small lot” premium, or penalty. That price ”discrimination”

is not invidious, however; the higher cost of smaller loans reflects the fixed costs of

lending. The high price of payday loans may partly reflect the combination of fixed costs

and small loan amounts (Flannery and Samolyk 2005).

A usury limit lowers household welfare. Suppose the maximum legal interest rate is r.



At that maximum rate, the minimum loan that lenders’ cost is f /(r− ρ) = B. Low income

households with loan demand less than B face a beggar’s choice: borrow B at r or do not

borrow at all. Such households would be willing to pay more to to avoid going without

credit, so raising the usury limit would raise welfare for those households.

Competition is another key determinant of how much households gains from borrowing.



3Alternatively, or additionaly, the demand for small, short term loans may have increased in the mid

1990s. The welfare reform then almost certainly increased demand for such credit as households who once

”worked” at home for the government were forced to go to work in the market.

Even with no competition — monopoly—households cannot be worse off than under autarky.

The monopolist raises interest rates until the marginal revenue from higher rates equals the

marginal cost from lower loan demand:



B(y, r) = −(r − ρ)Br(y, r). (2)

At that monopoly interest rate, rm, household loan demand equals B(y, rm).Household welfare

under monopoly equals U (Br(y, rm))+δU (y −(1+rm)Br(y, rm)). Welfare is lower under

monopoly because credit costs more and their standard of living fluctuates more (because

costly credit reduces their demand for credit) If households borrow from the monopolist,

however, they must better off than without credit.

In sum, welfare for rational households is highest if credit is available at competitive

prices. If households choose to borrow, they must be at least as well off as they were

without credit. Limiting loan rates cannot raise household welfare and may reduce it.

Monopoly lenders lower household welfare, but even with a monopolist, households cannot

be worse off than without credit.

The high cost of payday lending may partly reflect fixed costs per loan. Before payday

lending, those fixed costs may have been prohibitive; very small, short-term loans may not

have been worthwhile for banks. The payday lending technology may have lowered those



fixed costs, thus increasing the supply of credit to low income households demanding small

loans. That version of the genesis of payday lending suggests the innovation was welfare

improving, not predatory.





In the textbook model household welfare cannot be lower than under autarky because households

are fully informed and rational. Here we show households how can be made worse off



than without credit if predatory lenders can delude households about their (households’)

future income.

Suppose that by spending C(τ ), lenders can convince a prospective borrower that her

income on payday will be y +τ. The cost C can be interpreted variously as the cost of a guilty



A payday loan is a short-term loan that you promise to pay back from your next pay cheque. A payday loan is sometimes also called a payday advance.

Normally, you have to pay back a payday loan on or before your next payday (usually in two weeks or less). The amount you can borrow is usually limited to 30 percent of the net amount of your pay cheque. The net amount of your pay cheque is your total pay, after any deductions such as income taxes. For example, if your pay cheque is $1,000 net every two weeks, your payday loan could be for a maximum of $300 ($1,000 x 30%).

Before giving you a payday loan, lenders will ask for proof that you have a regular income, a permanent address and an active bank account. Some payday lenders also require that you be over the age of 18.

To make sure you pay back the loan, all payday lenders will ask you to provide a postdated cheque or to authorize a direct withdrawal from your bank account for the amount of the loan, plus all the different fees and interest charges that will be added to the original amount of the loan. The combination of multiple fees and interest charges are what make payday loans so expensive (Click here for an explanation of the various fees associated with these types of loans.

The lender should also ask you to sign a loan agreement. If the lender does not offer to give you a copy of the loan agreement, ask for one. Read this document carefully before signing it, and keep a copy for your records

How and when do I pay back the loan?
A payday loan agreement usually says that you must pay the total amount you owe for the loan on or before the date stated in your loan agreement. This includes the amount you borrowed, plus interest and any additional fees and charges.

Some lenders will cash your postdated cheque or process your direct withdrawal on the day the loan is due. However, some lenders may require that you pay the loan in cash, on or before the due date.

If you have not paid the loan in cash by the due date, some lenders may cash your cheque or process the direct withdrawal you signed on the day after your loan's due date, and charge you another fee. Ask the lender what the most inexpensive way is for you to repay your loan.

How does a payday loan affect my credit report?
Credit-reporting agencies collect information on whether or not you make your payments on time. This information, also called your "credit history", is part of your credit report and is used to calculate your credit score.

Making payments on time can help improve your credit score by demonstrating that you are able to manage your debt. Even if you have poor credit, you can rebuild it by using a credit card or other type of credit and paying back the money you owe on time.

This is not the case with payday loans. Since payday lenders are not currently members of the main credit-reporting agencies, getting a payday loan and paying it off on time will not improve your credit score. However, if you do not pay your loan back on time and it is sent to a collection agency, this will likely be reported to a credit-reporting agency and could have a negative impact on your credit report.

How much will a payday loan cost?
A payday loan is much more expensive than most other types of loans offered by financial institutions such as banks or credit unions. Before you apply for a payday loan, find out about all the fees and charges you will have to pay — including the fees you will be charged if you cannot repay the loan on time. The fees may not be easy to see right away, so read the agreement carefully before signing it. If you do not receive an explanation of all of the fees, charges and interest that will apply to the loan, or if you are not satisfied with the explanation you receive, do not sign the loan agreement.

How does the cost of a payday loan compare with other credit products?
Payday loans are much more expensive than other types of loans, including credit cards. But how much are you really paying? How does the cost of a payday loan compare with taking a cash advance on a credit card, using overdraft protection on your bank account or borrowing on a line of credit?

Let's compare the cost of using different types of loans. We'll assume that you borrow $300, for 14 days. Note the considerable difference in the cost of each type of loan.

Things to consider before you apply for a payday loan
Even if you think you may be turned down, ask your bank or credit union for overdraft protection on your bank account, or a line of credit. These are relatively inexpensive ways of obtaining access to extra funds, for short-term use.


If you are turned down for any of these credit options, ask why. If the reason is that you have a poor credit history, contact the three credit-reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Read the reports carefully to make sure that all of the information in it is correct. If you find any errors, contact the credit-reporting agency to find out how you can have the information corrected. The three major credit-reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax Canada, TransUnion Canada and Northern Credit Bureaus. All three of these agencies will give you a copy of your credit report for free if you request that it be sent to you by regular mail.


Ask yourself if you really need to take out a loan, or whether you can get by until your next pay cheque. If you need the money immediately, try to make other arrangements. For example, you may be able to cash in vacation days. Or you might consider getting a short-term loan from a family member or a friend.


If you find that you need to apply for a payday loan because you have no alternative, only borrow an amount that you are 100 percent sure you can repay on the due date of the loan.


Don't borrow more than you need.

Things to consider if you take out a payday loan
Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Read carefully — and take home with you — a copy of the loan agreement that you are being asked to sign. Don't feel pressured to sign the loan agreement right away if you have questions and want more time to read through the agreement on your own. If the lender does not want to give you a copy of the agreement, look for another lender.


Be sure to ask about all the fees, charges and interest that apply when you first get the loan, and what other charges you will owe if you can't pay the loan back on time.


If you are taking out a payday loan at another location to pay back the first payday loan, or you are extending or "rolling over" the loan that you had with the same lender, you could find yourself in serious financial difficulty. The fees, charges and interest will add up quickly on these types of loans, which can put you into serious debt.
How can I figure out the cost of each type of loan?
To estimate the total cost of a loan, including the annual cost of the loan expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed, follow the steps below.

Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. First, find out the annual interest rate that applies to the loan (if there is one). Figure out the daily interest rate by dividing the annual interest rate of the loan by 365 days. Then, multiply that rate by the length of time you are taking the loan. Finally, multiply the result by the amount you will borrow, in dollars:


Amount of interest

= Annual interest rate

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
365 days × Length of the loan
(number of days) × Amount of the loan

Step 2:

Determine the total cost of the loan by adding any fees that may apply to the interest you will have to pay. Find out what fees apply to the loan and add them to the cost of the interest, found in Step 1:


Total cost of the loan = Amount of interest + Total fees


Step 3:

Estimate the annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. First, divide the total cost of the loan, found in Step 2, by the amount of the loan. Then, divide this rate by the length of time you are taking the loan (in days) and multiply it by 365 (the number of days in the year):


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days

Let's find out the cost of a $300 payday loan, taken for 14 days.

We'll assume that the lender charges you a one-time set-up fee of $10 and a service fee of $40, which includes interest on the loan.


Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. In this case, there is no interest fee. The interest is therefore $0.


Step 2:

Figure out the cost of the loan by adding together any fees that apply and the interest you will have to pay. In this case, you would add the $10 set-up fee and the $40 service fee together:

$10 + $40 = $50


Step 3:

Estimate the total annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed:


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days
= $50
———— ÷ 14 days × 365 days
$300
= 4.35 or approximately 435%

The total cost of the payday loan would be $50 with an annual cost of 435 percent of the amount borrowed.






Information asymmetries are common in credit market models, but the usual assumption,

at least in commercial lending, is that borrowers are the better informed party and that

lenders have to screen and monitor to assess whether firms are creditworthy. The opposite

asymmetry, as we assume here, does not seem implausible in the context of consumer lending.

“Fringe” borrowers are less educated than mainstream borrowers (Caskey 2003), and many

are first-time borrowers (or are rebounding from a failed first foray into credit). Lenders

know from experience with large numbers of borrowers, whereas the borrower may only have

their own experience to guide them. Credit can also be confusing; after marriage, mortgages

are probably the most complicated contract most people ever enter. Given the subtleties

involved with credit, and the supposed lack of sophistication of sub-prime borrowers, our

assumption that lenders know better seems plausible.

While lenders might deceive households about several variables that influence household

loan demand, we focus on income. We suppose that lenders exaggerate household’s future

income in order boost loan demand. Our borrowers are gullible, in the sense that they can

be fooled about their future income, but they borrow rationally given their beliefs. Fooling

borrowers is costly to lenders, where the costs could represent conscience, technological costs

(of learning the pitch), or risk of prosecution. The upside to exaggerating borrowers’ income

prospects is obvious—they borrow more. As long as the extra borrowing does not increase

default risk too much, and as long as deceiving borrowers is easy enough, income deception

and predatory—welfare reducing—lending may occur.

After defining predatory lending, we test whether payday lending fits our definition. Payday

lenders make small, short-term loans to mostly lower-middle income households. The

business is booming, but critics condemn payday lending, especially the high fees and frequent

loan rollovers, as predatory. Many states prohibit payday loans outright, or indirectly,

via usury limits.

To test whether payday lending qualifies as predatory, we compared debt and delinquency

rates for households in states that allow payday lending to those in states that do not. We

focus especially on differences across states households that, according to our model, seem

more vulnerable to predation: households with more income uncertainly or less education.

We use smoking as a third, more ambiguous, proxy for households with high, or perhaps

hyperbolic, discount rates. In general, high discounters will pay higher future costs for a

given, immediate, gain in welfare. Smokers’ seem to fit that description. What makes the

smoking proxy ambiguous is that smokers may have hyperbolic, not just high, discount rates.

Hyperbolic discount rates decline over time in a way that leads to procrastination and selfcontrol

problems (Laibson 1997). The hyperbolic discounter postpones quitting smoking,

or repaying credit. Without knowing whether smokers discount rates are merely high, or

hyperbolic, we will not be able to say whether any extra debt for smokers in payday states

is welfare reducing.2

Given those proxies, we use a difference-in-difference approach to test whether payday

lending fits our definition of predatory. First we look for differences in household debt

and delinquency across payday states and non-payday states, then we test whether those

difference are higher for potential prey. To ensure that any such differences are not merely

state effects, we difference a third time across time by comparing whether those differences

changed after the advent of payday lending circa 1995. That triple difference identifies any

difference in debt and delinquency for potential prey in payday states after payday lending

was introduced.

Our findings seem mostly inconsistent with the hypothesis that payday lenders prey on,

i.e., lower the welfare of, households with uncertain income or households with less education.

Those types of households who happen to live in states that allow unlimited payday loans

are less likely to report being turned down for credit, but are not more likely, by and large,

to report higher debt levels, contrary to the overborrowing prediction of our model. Nor are

such households more likely to have missed a debt payment in the previous year. On the

contrary, households with uncertain income who live in states with unlimited payday loans

are less likely to have missed a debt payment over the previous year. The latter result is

consistent with claims by defenders of payday lending that some households borrow from

2Consistent with a high discount rate, Munasinghe and Sicherman (2000) discover that smokers have

flatter wage profiles and they are willing to trade more future earnings for a given increase in current earnings.

Gruber and Mulainathan (2002) find that high cigarette taxes make smokers ”happier,” consistent with

hypberbolic discount rates (because taxes help smokers commit to quitting). DellaVigna and Malmendier

(2004) show how credit card lenders can manipulate hyperbolic discounters by front-loading benefits and

back-loading costs.

payday lenders to avoid missing payments on other debt. On the whole, our results seem

consistent with the hypothesis that payday lending represents a legitimate increase in the

supply of credit, not a contrived increase in credit demand.

We find some interesting differences for smokers, but those differences are harder to

interpret in relation to the predatory hypothesis without knowing apriori whether smokers

are hyperbolic, or merely high, discounters.

We also find, using a small set of data from different sources, that payday loan rates

and fees decline significantly as the number of payday lenders and pawnshops increase.

Reformers often advocate usury limits to lower payday loan fees but our evidence suggests

that competition among payday lenders (and pawnshops) works to lower payday loan prices.

Our paper has several cousins in the academic literature. Ausubel (1991) argues that

credit card lenders exploit their superior information about household credit demand in their

marketing and pricing of credit cards. The predators in our model profit from their information

advantage as well. Our concept of income delusion or deception also has a behavioral

flavor, as well, hence our use of smoking as a proxy for self-control problems. Brunnermeier

and Parker (2004), for example, imagine that households choose what to expect about future

income (or other outcomes). High hopes give households’ current “felicity,” even if it

distorts borrowing and other income-dependent decisions. Our households have high hopes

for income, and they make bad borrowing decisions, but we do not count the current felicity

from high hopes as an offset to the welfare loss from overborrowing.

Our costly falsification (of household income prospects) and costly verification (by counselors)

resemble Townsend’s (1979) costly state verification and Lacker andWeinbergs’ (1989)

costly state falsification. The main difference here is that the falsifying and verifying comes

before income is realized, not after.

More importantly, we hope our findings inform the current, very real-world debate,

around predatory lending. The stakes in that debate are high: millions of lower income

households borrow regularly from thousands of payday loan offices around the country. If

payday lenders raise household welfare by relaxing credit constraints, anti-predatory legislation

may lower it.

Payday lenders make small, short-term loans to households. The typical loan is about $300

for two weeks. The typical fee is $15 per $100 borrowed. Lenders require two recent pay

stubs (as proof of employment), and a recent bank account statement. Borrowers secure

the loan with a post-dated personal check for the loan amount plus fees. When the loan

matures, lenders deposit the check.

Payday lending evolved from check cashing much like bank lending evolved from deposit

taking. For a fee, check cashiers turn personal paychecks into cash. After cashing several

paychecks for the same customer, lending against f uture paychecks was a natural next step.

High finance charges is the main criticism against payday lenders. The typical fee of $15

per $100 per two weeks implies an annual interest rate of 15x365/14, or 390 percent. Payday

lenders are also criticize for overlending, in the sense that borrowers often refinance their

loans repeatedly, and for ”targeting” women making the transition from welfare-to-work

(Fox and Mierzewski 2001) and soldiers (Graves and Peterson 2004).

Despite their critics, payday lending has boomed. The number of payday advance offices

grew from 0 in 1990 to 14, 000 in 2003 (Stegman and Harris 2003). The industry originated

$8 to $14 billion in loans in 2000, implying 26-47 million individual loans. Rapid entry

suggests the industry is profitable.

Payday lenders present stiff competition for pawnshops, even though the internet, namely

E-bay, significantly foreclosure costs for pawnshops (Caskey 2003). The number of pawn

shops in the U.S. grew about six percent per year between 1986 and 1996, but growth

essentially stalled from 1997 to 2003. Prices of shares in EZCorp, the largest, publicly

traded pawn shop holder, were essentially flat or declining between 1994 and 2004, while

Ace Cash Express share prices, a retail financial firm selling check cashing and payday loans,

rose substantially over that period (Figure 4). EZCorp CEO, Joseph Rotunday, blamed

payday lenders for pawnshops’ dismal performance:

The company had been progressing very nicely until the late 1990s.... (when)

a new product called payroll advance/payday loans came along and provided our

customer base an alternative choice. Many of them elected the payday loan over

the traditional pawn loan. (Quoted by Caskey (2003) p.14).

Payday lending is heavily regulated (Table 1). As of 2001, eighteen states effectively

prohibited payday loans via usury limits, and most other states prices, loan size, and loan

frequency per customer (Fox and Mierzwinski 2001). Note that the payday loan limit ranges

from 0 (where payday loans are illegal) to 1250. Nine states allow unlimited payday loans.

Payday lenders have circumvented usury limits by affiliating with national or state

chartered banks, but the Comptroller of the Currency—the overseer of nationally chartered

banks–recently banned such affiliations. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation still

permits payday lenders to affiliate with state banks, but recently restricted those partnerships

(Graves and Peterson 2005).

Regulatory risk—the threat of costly or disabling legislation in the future—looms large for

Payday lenders. The Utah legislature is reconsidering its permissive laws governing payday

lending. North Carolina recently drove payday lenders from the state by expressly outlawing

the practice.

Heavy regulation increases the cost of payday lending. High regulatory risk increases limits

entry into the industry and increases the expected return required by industry investors.

Driving up costs and driving away investors may be exactly what regulators intended if they

view payday lending as predatory.
We define predatory lending as a welfare reducing provision of credit. Households can be

made worse off by borrowing if lenders can deceive households into borrowing more than is

optimal. Excess borrowing reduces household welfare, and may increase default risk.

We illustrate our concept of predatory lending in a standard model of household borrowing.

Before we get to predatory lending, we review basic principles about welfare improving

lending, the type that lets households maintain their consumption despite fluctuations in

their income.

The model has two periods: today (period zero) and payday (period one. Household income

goes up and down periodically, but not randomly (for now): income equals zero today

and y on payday. If households consume Ct in period t, their utility is U (Ct).Household welfare

is the sum of utility over both periods: U (C0)+δU (C1), where δ equals the household’s

time rate of discount. Households with high δ value current consumption highly relative to

future consumption. In other words, high discounters are impatient.

A digression here on discount rates serves later discussion. In classical economics δ is

constant. If δ changes over time, so does household behavior, even if nothing else changes.

If δ(t) is hyperbolic, households will postpone unpleasant tasks until current consumption

does not seem so precious relative to future consumption (Laibson 1997). With hyperbolic

discounting, that day never arrives, so hyperbolic discounters have behavioral problems: they

procrastinate. They may never repay debt, much less begin saving. Hyperbolic discounters

who start smoking may never quit.

Returning to the model, if the marginal utility of consumption (U 0) is diminishing, households

will demand credit to reduce fluctuations in their standard of living. Households

without credit, however, must fend for themselves (autarky). Welfare under autarky equals



U(0)+δU (y). The fluctuations in consumption for households without credit make autarky

a possible worst case, and hence, a good benchmark for comparing cases with credit.

If households borrow B at interest rate r, welfare equals U (B) + δU (y − (1 + r)B).

Borrowing increases utility in period zero, when the proceeds are consumed, but lowers utility

in period one, when households pay for their borrowing. Rational, informed households trade

off the good and bad side of borrowing; they borrow until the marginal utility of consuming

another unit today just equals the marginal, discounted disutility of repaying the extra debt

on payday:



U 0(B) = δ(1 + r)U 0(y − (1 + r)B). (1)

Equation (1) determines household loan demand as a function of their income, their

discount rate, and the market interest rate: B(y, δ, r). For standard utility functions,

household loan demand is increasing in income and decreasing in the discount factor and

interest rate: By > 0; Bδ < 0; Br < 0. Household welfare with optimal borrowing equals



U (B(y, r, d))+δU (y − (1+r)B(y, r, δ)). As long as households follow (1), their welfare with

positive borrowing must be higher than without (autarky).

The welfare gain from borrowing depends on the cost of credit production. Suppose the

cost of lending $B to a particular household equals (1 + ρ)B + f, where ρ represents the

opportunity cost per unit loaned and f is the fixed cost per loan. Think of f as the cost

of record-keeping and credit check required for each loan, however large or small the loan

may be. If the going price for loans is (1+r) per unit borrowed, the lenders’ profits equal

(r − ρ)B − f.



With perfect competition among lenders, the loan interest rate is competed down until

it just covers the costs of the loan: r = ρ + f /B. Equilibrium r and B are determined

where that credit supply curve equals demand (1).

Equilibrium in the payday credit market is illustrated in Figure (3). If fixed costs per loan

are prohibitively high, the market may not exist. Perhaps the payday lending technology

lowered the fixed cost per loan enough to make the business viable.3 Before the advent of

payday lending, households who applied to banks for a very small, short-term loan may have

been denied.

Fixed costs per loan imply that smaller loans will cost more per dollar borrowed than

larger loans. That means households with low credit demand will pay higher rates than

households with high loan demand. Loan demand is increasing in income, so high income

households who demand larger quantities of credit will enjoy a ”quantity” discount, while

lower income households will pay a ”small lot” premium, or penalty. That price ”discrimination”

is not invidious, however; the higher cost of smaller loans reflects the fixed costs of

lending. The high price of payday loans may partly reflect the combination of fixed costs

and small loan amounts (Flannery and Samolyk 2005).

A usury limit lowers household welfare. Suppose the maximum legal interest rate is r.



At that maximum rate, the minimum loan that lenders’ cost is f /(r− ρ) = B. Low income

households with loan demand less than B face a beggar’s choice: borrow B at r or do not

borrow at all. Such households would be willing to pay more to to avoid going without

credit, so raising the usury limit would raise welfare for those households.

Competition is another key determinant of how much households gains from borrowing.



3Alternatively, or additionaly, the demand for small, short term loans may have increased in the mid

1990s. The welfare reform then almost certainly increased demand for such credit as households who once

”worked” at home for the government were forced to go to work in the market.

Even with no competition — monopoly—households cannot be worse off than under autarky.

The monopolist raises interest rates until the marginal revenue from higher rates equals the

marginal cost from lower loan demand:



B(y, r) = −(r − ρ)Br(y, r). (2)

At that monopoly interest rate, rm, household loan demand equals B(y, rm).Household welfare

under monopoly equals U (Br(y, rm))+δU (y −(1+rm)Br(y, rm)). Welfare is lower under

monopoly because credit costs more and their standard of living fluctuates more (because

costly credit reduces their demand for credit) If households borrow from the monopolist,

however, they must better off than without credit.

In sum, welfare for rational households is highest if credit is available at competitive

prices. If households choose to borrow, they must be at least as well off as they were

without credit. Limiting loan rates cannot raise household welfare and may reduce it.

Monopoly lenders lower household welfare, but even with a monopolist, households cannot

be worse off than without credit.

The high cost of payday lending may partly reflect fixed costs per loan. Before payday

lending, those fixed costs may have been prohibitive; very small, short-term loans may not

have been worthwhile for banks. The payday lending technology may have lowered those



fixed costs, thus increasing the supply of credit to low income households demanding small

loans. That version of the genesis of payday lending suggests the innovation was welfare

improving, not predatory.





In the textbook model household welfare cannot be lower than under autarky because households

are fully informed and rational. Here we show households how can be made worse off



than without credit if predatory lenders can delude households about their (households’)

future income.

Suppose that by spending C(τ ), lenders can convince a prospective borrower that her

income on payday will be y +τ. The cost C can be interpreted variously as the cost of a guilty



A payday loan is a short-term loan that you promise to pay back from your next pay cheque. A payday loan is sometimes also called a payday advance.

Normally, you have to pay back a payday loan on or before your next payday (usually in two weeks or less). The amount you can borrow is usually limited to 30 percent of the net amount of your pay cheque. The net amount of your pay cheque is your total pay, after any deductions such as income taxes. For example, if your pay cheque is $1,000 net every two weeks, your payday loan could be for a maximum of $300 ($1,000 x 30%).

Before giving you a payday loan, lenders will ask for proof that you have a regular income, a permanent address and an active bank account. Some payday lenders also require that you be over the age of 18.

To make sure you pay back the loan, all payday lenders will ask you to provide a postdated cheque or to authorize a direct withdrawal from your bank account for the amount of the loan, plus all the different fees and interest charges that will be added to the original amount of the loan. The combination of multiple fees and interest charges are what make payday loans so expensive (Click here for an explanation of the various fees associated with these types of loans.

The lender should also ask you to sign a loan agreement. If the lender does not offer to give you a copy of the loan agreement, ask for one. Read this document carefully before signing it, and keep a copy for your records

How and when do I pay back the loan?
A payday loan agreement usually says that you must pay the total amount you owe for the loan on or before the date stated in your loan agreement. This includes the amount you borrowed, plus interest and any additional fees and charges.

Some lenders will cash your postdated cheque or process your direct withdrawal on the day the loan is due. However, some lenders may require that you pay the loan in cash, on or before the due date.

If you have not paid the loan in cash by the due date, some lenders may cash your cheque or process the direct withdrawal you signed on the day after your loan's due date, and charge you another fee. Ask the lender what the most inexpensive way is for you to repay your loan.

How does a payday loan affect my credit report?
Credit-reporting agencies collect information on whether or not you make your payments on time. This information, also called your "credit history", is part of your credit report and is used to calculate your credit score.

Making payments on time can help improve your credit score by demonstrating that you are able to manage your debt. Even if you have poor credit, you can rebuild it by using a credit card or other type of credit and paying back the money you owe on time.

This is not the case with payday loans. Since payday lenders are not currently members of the main credit-reporting agencies, getting a payday loan and paying it off on time will not improve your credit score. However, if you do not pay your loan back on time and it is sent to a collection agency, this will likely be reported to a credit-reporting agency and could have a negative impact on your credit report.

How much will a payday loan cost?
A payday loan is much more expensive than most other types of loans offered by financial institutions such as banks or credit unions. Before you apply for a payday loan, find out about all the fees and charges you will have to pay — including the fees you will be charged if you cannot repay the loan on time. The fees may not be easy to see right away, so read the agreement carefully before signing it. If you do not receive an explanation of all of the fees, charges and interest that will apply to the loan, or if you are not satisfied with the explanation you receive, do not sign the loan agreement.

How does the cost of a payday loan compare with other credit products?
Payday loans are much more expensive than other types of loans, including credit cards. But how much are you really paying? How does the cost of a payday loan compare with taking a cash advance on a credit card, using overdraft protection on your bank account or borrowing on a line of credit?

Let's compare the cost of using different types of loans. We'll assume that you borrow $300, for 14 days. Note the considerable difference in the cost of each type of loan.

Things to consider before you apply for a payday loan
Even if you think you may be turned down, ask your bank or credit union for overdraft protection on your bank account, or a line of credit. These are relatively inexpensive ways of obtaining access to extra funds, for short-term use.


If you are turned down for any of these credit options, ask why. If the reason is that you have a poor credit history, contact the three credit-reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Read the reports carefully to make sure that all of the information in it is correct. If you find any errors, contact the credit-reporting agency to find out how you can have the information corrected. The three major credit-reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax Canada, TransUnion Canada and Northern Credit Bureaus. All three of these agencies will give you a copy of your credit report for free if you request that it be sent to you by regular mail.


Ask yourself if you really need to take out a loan, or whether you can get by until your next pay cheque. If you need the money immediately, try to make other arrangements. For example, you may be able to cash in vacation days. Or you might consider getting a short-term loan from a family member or a friend.


If you find that you need to apply for a payday loan because you have no alternative, only borrow an amount that you are 100 percent sure you can repay on the due date of the loan.


Don't borrow more than you need.

Things to consider if you take out a payday loan
Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Read carefully — and take home with you — a copy of the loan agreement that you are being asked to sign. Don't feel pressured to sign the loan agreement right away if you have questions and want more time to read through the agreement on your own. If the lender does not want to give you a copy of the agreement, look for another lender.


Be sure to ask about all the fees, charges and interest that apply when you first get the loan, and what other charges you will owe if you can't pay the loan back on time.


If you are taking out a payday loan at another location to pay back the first payday loan, or you are extending or "rolling over" the loan that you had with the same lender, you could find yourself in serious financial difficulty. The fees, charges and interest will add up quickly on these types of loans, which can put you into serious debt.
How can I figure out the cost of each type of loan?
To estimate the total cost of a loan, including the annual cost of the loan expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed, follow the steps below.

Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. First, find out the annual interest rate that applies to the loan (if there is one). Figure out the daily interest rate by dividing the annual interest rate of the loan by 365 days. Then, multiply that rate by the length of time you are taking the loan. Finally, multiply the result by the amount you will borrow, in dollars:


Amount of interest

= Annual interest rate

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
365 days × Length of the loan
(number of days) × Amount of the loan

Step 2:

Determine the total cost of the loan by adding any fees that may apply to the interest you will have to pay. Find out what fees apply to the loan and add them to the cost of the interest, found in Step 1:


Total cost of the loan = Amount of interest + Total fees


Step 3:

Estimate the annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. First, divide the total cost of the loan, found in Step 2, by the amount of the loan. Then, divide this rate by the length of time you are taking the loan (in days) and multiply it by 365 (the number of days in the year):


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days

Let's find out the cost of a $300 payday loan, taken for 14 days.

We'll assume that the lender charges you a one-time set-up fee of $10 and a service fee of $40, which includes interest on the loan.


Step 1:

Determine how much interest you will pay. In this case, there is no interest fee. The interest is therefore $0.


Step 2:

Figure out the cost of the loan by adding together any fees that apply and the interest you will have to pay. In this case, you would add the $10 set-up fee and the $40 service fee together:

$10 + $40 = $50


Step 3:

Estimate the total annual cost of the loan, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed:


Annual cost of the loan (%)

= Cost of the loan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amount of the loan ÷ Length of the loan
(number of days) × 365 days
= $50
———— ÷ 14 days × 365 days
$300
= 4.35 or approximately 435%

The total cost of the payday loan would be $50 with an annual cost of 435 percent of the amount borrowed.






Information asymmetries are common in credit market models, but the usual assumption,

at least in commercial lending, is that borrowers are the better informed party and that

lenders have to screen and monitor to assess whether firms are creditworthy. The opposite

asymmetry, as we assume here, does not seem implausible in the context of consumer lending.

“Fringe” borrowers are less educated than mainstream borrowers (Caskey 2003), and many

are first-time borrowers (or are rebounding from a failed first foray into credit). Lenders

know from experience with large numbers of borrowers, whereas the borrower may only have

their own experience to guide them. Credit can also be confusing; after marriage, mortgages

are probably the most complicated contract most people ever enter. Given the subtleties

involved with credit, and the supposed lack of sophistication of sub-prime borrowers, our

assumption that lenders know better seems plausible.

While lenders might deceive households about several variables that influence household

loan demand, we focus on income. We suppose that lenders exaggerate household’s future

income in order boost loan demand. Our borrowers are gullible, in the sense that they can

be fooled about their future income, but they borrow rationally given their beliefs. Fooling

borrowers is costly to lenders, where the costs could represent conscience, technological costs

(of learning the pitch), or risk of prosecution. The upside to exaggerating borrowers’ income

prospects is obvious—they borrow more. As long as the extra borrowing does not increase

default risk too much, and as long as deceiving borrowers is easy enough, income deception

and predatory—welfare reducing—lending may occur.

After defining predatory lending, we test whether payday lending fits our definition. Payday

lenders make small, short-term loans to mostly lower-middle income households. The

business is booming, but critics condemn payday lending, especially the high fees and frequent

loan rollovers, as predatory. Many states prohibit payday loans outright, or indirectly,

via usury limits.

To test whether payday lending qualifies as predatory, we compared debt and delinquency

rates for households in states that allow payday lending to those in states that do not. We

focus especially on differences across states households that, according to our model, seem

more vulnerable to predation: households with more income uncertainly or less education.

We use smoking as a third, more ambiguous, proxy for households with high, or perhaps

hyperbolic, discount rates. In general, high discounters will pay higher future costs for a

given, immediate, gain in welfare. Smokers’ seem to fit that description. What makes the

smoking proxy ambiguous is that smokers may have hyperbolic, not just high, discount rates.

Hyperbolic discount rates decline over time in a way that leads to procrastination and selfcontrol

problems (Laibson 1997). The hyperbolic discounter postpones quitting smoking,

or repaying credit. Without knowing whether smokers discount rates are merely high, or

hyperbolic, we will not be able to say whether any extra debt for smokers in payday states

is welfare reducing.2

Given those proxies, we use a difference-in-difference approach to test whether payday

lending fits our definition of predatory. First we look for differences in household debt

and delinquency across payday states and non-payday states, then we test whether those

difference are higher for potential prey. To ensure that any such differences are not merely

state effects, we difference a third time across time by comparing whether those differences

changed after the advent of payday lending circa 1995. That triple difference identifies any

difference in debt and delinquency for potential prey in payday states after payday lending

was introduced.

Our findings seem mostly inconsistent with the hypothesis that payday lenders prey on,

i.e., lower the welfare of, households with uncertain income or households with less education.

Those types of households who happen to live in states that allow unlimited payday loans

are less likely to report being turned down for credit, but are not more likely, by and large,

to report higher debt levels, contrary to the overborrowing prediction of our model. Nor are

such households more likely to have missed a debt payment in the previous year. On the

contrary, households with uncertain income who live in states with unlimited payday loans

are less likely to have missed a debt payment over the previous year. The latter result is

consistent with claims by defenders of payday lending that some households borrow from

2Consistent with a high discount rate, Munasinghe and Sicherman (2000) discover that smokers have

flatter wage profiles and they are willing to trade more future earnings for a given increase in current earnings.

Gruber and Mulainathan (2002) find that high cigarette taxes make smokers ”happier,” consistent with

hypberbolic discount rates (because taxes help smokers commit to quitting). DellaVigna and Malmendier

(2004) show how credit card lenders can manipulate hyperbolic discounters by front-loading benefits and

back-loading costs.

payday lenders to avoid missing payments on other debt. On the whole, our results seem

consistent with the hypothesis that payday lending represents a legitimate increase in the

supply of credit, not a contrived increase in credit demand.

We find some interesting differences for smokers, but those differences are harder to

interpret in relation to the predatory hypothesis without knowing apriori whether smokers

are hyperbolic, or merely high, discounters.

We also find, using a small set of data from different sources, that payday loan rates

and fees decline significantly as the number of payday lenders and pawnshops increase.

Reformers often advocate usury limits to lower payday loan fees but our evidence suggests

that competition among payday lenders (and pawnshops) works to lower payday loan prices.

Our paper has several cousins in the academic literature. Ausubel (1991) argues that

credit card lenders exploit their superior information about household credit demand in their

marketing and pricing of credit cards. The predators in our model profit from their information

advantage as well. Our concept of income delusion or deception also has a behavioral

flavor, as well, hence our use of smoking as a proxy for self-control problems. Brunnermeier

and Parker (2004), for example, imagine that households choose what to expect about future

income (or other outcomes). High hopes give households’ current “felicity,” even if it

distorts borrowing and other income-dependent decisions. Our households have high hopes

for income, and they make bad borrowing decisions, but we do not count the current felicity

from high hopes as an offset to the welfare loss from overborrowing.

Our costly falsification (of household income prospects) and costly verification (by counselors)

resemble Townsend’s (1979) costly state verification and Lacker andWeinbergs’ (1989)

costly state falsification. The main difference here is that the falsifying and verifying comes

before income is realized, not after.

More importantly, we hope our findings inform the current, very real-world debate,

around predatory lending. The stakes in that debate are high: millions of lower income

households borrow regularly from thousands of payday loan offices around the country. If

payday lenders raise household welfare by relaxing credit constraints, anti-predatory legislation

may lower it.

Payday lenders make small, short-term loans to households. The typical loan is about $300

for two weeks. The typical fee is $15 per $100 borrowed. Lenders require two recent pay

stubs (as proof of employment), and a recent bank account statement. Borrowers secure

the loan with a post-dated personal check for the loan amount plus fees. When the loan

matures, lenders deposit the check.

Payday lending evolved from check cashing much like bank lending evolved from deposit

taking. For a fee, check cashiers turn personal paychecks into cash. After cashing several

paychecks for the same customer, lending against f uture paychecks was a natural next step.

High finance charges is the main criticism against payday lenders. The typical fee of $15

per $100 per two weeks implies an annual interest rate of 15x365/14, or 390 percent. Payday

lenders are also criticize for overlending, in the sense that borrowers often refinance their

loans repeatedly, and for ”targeting” women making the transition from welfare-to-work

(Fox and Mierzewski 2001) and soldiers (Graves and Peterson 2004).

Despite their critics, payday lending has boomed. The number of payday advance offices

grew from 0 in 1990 to 14, 000 in 2003 (Stegman and Harris 2003). The industry originated

$8 to $14 billion in loans in 2000, implying 26-47 million individual loans. Rapid entry

suggests the industry is profitable.

Payday lenders present stiff competition for pawnshops, even though the internet, namely

E-bay, significantly foreclosure costs for pawnshops (Caskey 2003). The number of pawn

shops in the U.S. grew about six percent per year between 1986 and 1996, but growth

essentially stalled from 1997 to 2003. Prices of shares in EZCorp, the largest, publicly

traded pawn shop holder, were essentially flat or declining between 1994 and 2004, while

Ace Cash Express share prices, a retail financial firm selling check cashing and payday loans,

rose substantially over that period (Figure 4). EZCorp CEO, Joseph Rotunday, blamed

payday lenders for pawnshops’ dismal performance:

The company had been progressing very nicely until the late 1990s.... (when)

a new product called payroll advance/payday loans came along and provided our

customer base an alternative choice. Many of them elected the payday loan over

the traditional pawn loan. (Quoted by Caskey (2003) p.14).

Payday lending is heavily regulated (Table 1). As of 2001, eighteen states effectively

prohibited payday loans via usury limits, and most other states prices, loan size, and loan

frequency per customer (Fox and Mierzwinski 2001). Note that the payday loan limit ranges

from 0 (where payday loans are illegal) to 1250. Nine states allow unlimited payday loans.

Payday lenders have circumvented usury limits by affiliating with national or state

chartered banks, but the Comptroller of the Currency—the overseer of nationally chartered

banks–recently banned such affiliations. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation still

permits payday lenders to affiliate with state banks, but recently restricted those partnerships

(Graves and Peterson 2005).

Regulatory risk—the threat of costly or disabling legislation in the future—looms large for

Payday lenders. The Utah legislature is reconsidering its permissive laws governing payday

lending. North Carolina recently drove payday lenders from the state by expressly outlawing

the practice.

Heavy regulation increases the cost of payday lending. High regulatory risk increases limits

entry into the industry and increases the expected return required by industry investors.

Driving up costs and driving away investors may be exactly what regulators intended if they

view payday lending as predatory.
We define predatory lending as a welfare reducing provision of credit. Households can be

made worse off by borrowing if lenders can deceive households into borrowing more than is

optimal. Excess borrowing reduces household welfare, and may increase default risk.

We illustrate our concept of predatory lending in a standard model of household borrowing.

Before we get to predatory lending, we review basic principles about welfare improving

lending, the type that lets households maintain their consumption despite fluctuations in

their income.

The model has two periods: today (period zero) and payday (period one. Household income

goes up and down periodically, but not randomly (for now): income equals zero today

and y on payday. If households consume Ct in period t, their utility is U (Ct).Household welfare

is the sum of utility over both periods: U (C0)+δU (C1), where δ equals the household’s

time rate of discount. Households with high δ value current consumption highly relative to

future consumption. In other words, high discounters are impatient.

A digression here on discount rates serves later discussion. In classical economics δ is

constant. If δ changes over time, so does household behavior, even if nothing else changes.

If δ(t) is hyperbolic, households will postpone unpleasant tasks until current consumption

does not seem so precious relative to future consumption (Laibson 1997). With hyperbolic

discounting, that day never arrives, so hyperbolic discounters have behavioral problems: they

procrastinate. They may never repay debt, much less begin saving. Hyperbolic discounters

who start smoking may never quit.

Returning to the model, if the marginal utility of consumption (U 0) is diminishing, households

will demand credit to reduce fluctuations in their standard of living. Households

without credit, however, must fend for themselves (autarky). Welfare under autarky equals



U(0)+δU (y). The fluctuations in consumption for households without credit make autarky

a possible worst case, and hence, a good benchmark for comparing cases with credit.

If households borrow B at interest rate r, welfare equals U (B) + δU (y − (1 + r)B).

Borrowing increases utility in period zero, when the proceeds are consumed, but lowers utility

in period one, when households pay for their borrowing. Rational, informed households trade

off the good and bad side of borrowing; they borrow until the marginal utility of consuming

another unit today just equals the marginal, discounted disutility of repaying the extra debt

on payday:



U 0(B) = δ(1 + r)U 0(y − (1 + r)B). (1)

Equation (1) determines household loan demand as a function of their income, their

discount rate, and the market interest rate: B(y, δ, r). For standard utility functions,

household loan demand is increasing in income and decreasing in the discount factor and

interest rate: By > 0; Bδ < 0; Br < 0. Household welfare with optimal borrowing equals



U (B(y, r, d))+δU (y − (1+r)B(y, r, δ)). As long as households follow (1), their welfare with

positive borrowing must be higher than without (autarky).

The welfare gain from borrowing depends on the cost of credit production. Suppose the

cost of lending $B to a particular household equals (1 + ρ)B + f, where ρ represents the

opportunity cost per unit loaned and f is the fixed cost per loan. Think of f as the cost

of record-keeping and credit check required for each loan, however large or small the loan

may be. If the going price for loans is (1+r) per unit borrowed, the lenders’ profits equal

(r − ρ)B − f.



With perfect competition among lenders, the loan interest rate is competed down until

it just covers the costs of the loan: r = ρ + f /B. Equilibrium r and B are determined

where that credit supply curve equals demand (1).

Equilibrium in the payday credit market is illustrated in Figure (3). If fixed costs per loan

are prohibitively high, the market may not exist. Perhaps the payday lending technology

lowered the fixed cost per loan enough to make the business viable.3 Before the advent of

payday lending, households who applied to banks for a very small, short-term loan may have

been denied.

Fixed costs per loan imply that smaller loans will cost more per dollar borrowed than

larger loans. That means households with low credit demand will pay higher rates than

households with high loan demand. Loan demand is increasing in income, so high income

households who demand larger quantities of credit will enjoy a ”quantity” discount, while

lower income households will pay a ”small lot” premium, or penalty. That price ”discrimination”

is not invidious, however; the higher cost of smaller loans reflects the fixed costs of

lending. The high price of payday loans may partly reflect the combination of fixed costs

and small loan amounts (Flannery and Samolyk 2005).

A usury limit lowers household welfare. Suppose the maximum legal interest rate is r.



At that maximum rate, the minimum loan that lenders’ cost is f /(r− ρ) = B. Low income

households with loan demand less than B face a beggar’s choice: borrow B at r or do not

borrow at all. Such households would be willing to pay more to to avoid going without

credit, so raising the usury limit would raise welfare for those households.

Competition is another key determinant of how much households gains from borrowing.



3Alternatively, or additionaly, the demand for small, short term loans may have increased in the mid

1990s. The welfare reform then almost certainly increased demand for such credit as households who once

”worked” at home for the government were forced to go to work in the market.

Even with no competition — monopoly—households cannot be worse off than under autarky.

The monopolist raises interest rates until the marginal revenue from higher rates equals the

marginal cost from lower loan demand:



B(y, r) = −(r − ρ)Br(y, r). (2)

At that monopoly interest rate, rm, household loan demand equals B(y, rm).Household welfare

under monopoly equals U (Br(y, rm))+δU (y −(1+rm)Br(y, rm)). Welfare is lower under

monopoly because credit costs more and their standard of living fluctuates more (because

costly credit reduces their demand for credit) If households borrow from the monopolist,

however, they must better off than without credit.

In sum, welfare for rational households is highest if credit is available at competitive

prices. If households choose to borrow, they must be at least as well off as they were

without credit. Limiting loan rates cannot raise household welfare and may reduce it.

Monopoly lenders lower household welfare, but even with a monopolist, households cannot

be worse off than without credit.

The high cost of payday lending may partly reflect fixed costs per loan. Before payday

lending, those fixed costs may have been prohibitive; very small, short-term loans may not

have been worthwhile for banks. The payday lending technology may have lowered those



fixed costs, thus increasing the supply of credit to low income households demanding small

loans. That version of the genesis of payday lending suggests the innovation was welfare

improving, not predatory.





In the textbook model household welfare cannot be lower than under autarky because households

are fully informed and rational. Here we show households how can be made worse off



than without credit if predatory lenders can delude households about their (households’)

future income.

Suppose that by spending C(τ ), lenders can convince a prospective borrower that her

income on payday will be y +τ. The cost C can be interpreted variously as the cost of a guilty

Anonymous said...

STOP FORECLOSURE WITH CALIFORNIALOANRATE.COM


CaliforniaLoanRate.com will work with you to develop a plan that best serves your particular needs. We will then negotiate with your lender to incorporate any changes that are needed to make the plan acceptable both to you and to your lender. Keeping you in your home is advantageous to the lender. Our job is to help them appreciate that advantage.
SHORT SALES MAY SELL YOU SHORT
You may have been told that a short sale is your only course of action.What you may not have been told is that you may be dealing with the consequences of that action for many years.
DEADLINE SENSITIVITY
We understand that you may be facing immediate deadlines and that any delay can mean a loss of meaningful options for relief.
TYPICAL RESTRUCTURING PLANS
Restructuring plans may include:
Adding delinquent payments and any foreclosure fees to the back end of the loan. This may include a permanent reduction in your interest rate.
Forbearance plans may be used to temporarily halt the foreclosure process for up to four years while you make payments to become current with the lender.
GOALS OF NEGOTIATION WITH YOUR LENDER
In our negotiations with your lender we are seeking to lower your payments, lower the interest rate, mitigate any negative impact on your credit rating, and keep your home from going into foreclosure. The lender benefits by continuing to receive payments on the mortgage, and saving on the costs that would be incurred in a foreclosure.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU
We will need to document your income and expenses for the last two years. Documentation will include pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements and property tax bills, and all of the paperwork associated with your mortgage. We will need copies of your bills to document your financial situation and the factors that led to your falling behind. Please provide any other letters or notices that demonstrate that you faced a reduction in your income or higher than expected expenses.
TELLING YOUR STORY
We will ask you to prepare a draft letter that explains in your own words what factors have led to your need for a modification from the lender. It is important that you author this letter, and that it is not generic. Please include the details that bring to life the financial difficulties that you have faced. If you feel that you were not properly and fully informed regarding the terms of your loan, please describe the process by which you came to sign the loan papers and what your understanding of the terms of your loan was at that time.