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ChatChat - Claudia Cragg

Jan 8, 2020

Claudia Cragg (@claudiacragg) speaks here with Devin Fergus (@devin_fergus), the Distinguished Professor of History and Black Studies, at the University of Missouri, about his new book, '"Land of the Fee: The Decline of the Middle Class and the Making of the New World Financial Order".

"Consumer financial fees have helped to choke off dreams of the middle class and middle class aspirants alike," argues Fergus (History and Black Studies/Univ. of Missouri; Liberalism, Black Power, and the Making of American Politics, 1965-1980, 2009, etc.).

In particular, Fergus investigates several common financial transactions that he contends involve hidden or excessive fees so egregious that they are damaging the economic well-being of Americans, including subprime mortgages, student loans, and payday lending.

The damage these forms of borrowing have done to American households during and after the Great Recession is already well-known. Fergus traces in detail the discouraging story of congressional inaction by both political parties that has permitted lenders to sidestep usury laws as they burden unsophisticated borrowers with excessive interest and charges like origination fees and prepayment penalties.