Monday, July 9, 2007

The 520 percent pastrami

In a little strip mall on my usual route home, I noticed last week that a deli is going in where a pay day lender had been only a few weeks before.

This morning's Oregonian serves up the rest of the story:
Scores of Oregon payday and car title lenders have closed their doors as a 36 percent interest rate cap and other new regulations took effect last week.

Gone are the 520 percent annual interest rates that were common among payday lenders before the Legislature recently passed new regulations. Gone, too, are many of the lenders. But among those who remain, borrowers will find their small, short-term loans cost about a third of what they cost before.

At least 60 payday loan stores have closed or surrendered their licenses since June 1, says Charles Donald, supervising examiner at the state Department of Consumer and Business Services.

It makes you wonder about a business model that can't survive with a 36% return on investment, doesn't it?

By comparison, analysts predict that the $4.95 pastrami from the newly opened deli in my neighborhood won't cost $15 by the time you've finished it.

My favorite line from the story was offered up by the director of investor relations for the largest chain of payday loan stores in the country:
"The economic situation that exists in Oregon currently is one that we think is prohibitive,"

Well, if by "prohibitive" he means "finally through pretending we're not loan sharking," then, yes--he's absolutely right.

This is progress. We really don't need dozens of loan shops across the state putting the screws to people who are already having a hard time. But we can always use a good delicatessen.

(Photo of pastrami on rye from Katz's Deli in NYC via I Am Alert (but not alarmed).)

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