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Credit and CommunityWorking-Class Debt in the UK since 1880$
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Sean O'Connell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199263318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263318.001.0001

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Easy terms remain elusive

(p.286) Conclusion
Credit and Community

Sean O'Connell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter rejects the notion that low-income consumers were feckless. Such statements emanated from a model of the rational middle-class consumer and frequently made little sense in the context of the choices available to the working-classes. The extent to which low-income consumers demonstrated agency is highlighted. It is noted that the operational model of Victorian tallymen continues to work for modern doorstep moneylenders. This is despite recent accusations, by the New Economics Foundation, that their business was amongst the worst excesses of the free market. However, the Department and Trade and Industry concluded that their existence limited the scale of the illegal sector, which is much larger in France and Germany (where interest rate ceilings have prevented the development of a legal sub-prime sector). Different European approaches to sub-prime lending are discussed, as is the possibility of an effective not for profit mutual engagement with low-income borrowers.

Keywords:   rational consumer, working-class agency, New Economics Foundation, France, Germany, Europe, sub-prime sector, interest rate ceiling, Department of Trade and Industry, moneylenders

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