Economy & Trade

How predatory lenders eat the poor

As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, it is worth considering how much progress we have made, not only towards stabilizing the mortgage industry, but at protecting vulnerable Americans from exploitation by unscrupulous lenders in general. The story of the financial collapse that took place a decade ago is essentially one about the fecklessness and irresponsibility of regulators. Timothy Geithner, former President Barack Obama's first treasury secretary, wrote about this problem with candor — if somewhat woodenly — in Stress Test, his memoir of the 2007-08 crisis: The mortgage industry has changed significantly since 2008. By all accounts it has improved, though military veterans remain a frequent target of ludicrous schemes to refinance their homes.


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