The Congress: Shylock Was a Piker

When it comes to consumer credit, the rule applied by many a department store, used-car dealer and friendly finance company is caveat emptor. Yet in an economy where outstanding credit totals $92.5 billion—at an annual cost of $12.5 billion in interest—the wary buyer or borrower is rare. Some of the interest rates charged—and paid —in the U.S. would scandalize Shylock. A Manhattan woman bought a $300 sofa that actually cost her $624 after two years of installment payments with interest of 108%. A Jersey City man ended up paying $420 for a...

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