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Publisher's Summary

For most people, the Great Crash of 2008 has meant troubling times. Not so for those in the flourishing poverty industry, for whom the economic woes spell an opportunity to expand and grow. These mercenary entrepreneurs have taken advantage of an era of deregulation to devise high-priced products to sell to the credit-hungry working poor, including the instant tax refund and the payday loan. In the process they've created an industry larger than the casino business and have proved that pawnbrokers and check cashers, if they dream big enough, can grow very rich off those with thin wallets.
Broke, USA is Gary Rivlin's riveting report from the economic fringes. From the annual meeting of the national check cashers association in Las Vegas to a tour of the foreclosure-riddled neighborhoods of Dayton, Ohio, here is a subprime Fast Food Nation featuring an unforgettable cast of characters and memorable scenes. Rivlin profiles players like a former small-town Tennessee debt collector whose business offering cash advances to the working poor has earned him a net worth in the hundreds of millions, and legendary Wall Street dealmaker Sandy Weill, who rode a subprime loan business into control of the nation's largest bank. Rivlin parallels their stories with the tale of those committed souls fighting back against the major corporations, chain franchises, and newly hatched enterprises that fleece the country's hardworking waitresses, warehouse workers, and mall clerks.
Timely, shocking, and powerful, Broke, USA offers a much-needed look at why our country is in a financial mess and gives a voice to the millions of ordinary Americans left devastated in the wake of the economic collapse.
©2010 Gary Rivlin (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

"A timely, important, and deeply disturbing look at the cycle of debt of the nation's most vulnerable." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a powerful analysis, detailing how the financial sector has come to its current state of crisis and including personal stories of some among the millions of working Americans who have been exploited along the way." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Wade T. Brooks on 06-25-12

A Good Read

This book is about all the business that were built around payday loans, pawn shop loans, credit cards, bounced check fees, subprime mortgages and instant tax refunds. The author interviews numerous business owners and borrowers to get insights into how prevalent, lucrative and damaging these businesses are.

Although written to be a book of what-not-to-do it may well become a guide for those who want to make big money quickly. From the interviews it was readily apparent the market demand and margins were through the roof and a number of the now millionaires were average Joes who hung out a shingle, plowed their earning into opening more stores and made a fortune.

A good part of the book revolves around a few key figures that have been fighting the industry and the small inroads they have made against behemoth money makers that have been purchased by large multi-national banks or had successful IPOs.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By E Vil Larry on 09-04-10

Sadly I was a part of this

Most of this has happened to me, and I was a part of the stuff. I was a business partner and VP for Tobie Mckenzie during this time. One story that Allen Jones forgot to tell, is when he got sent a little white tux sized for a 10yr, with a card saying "Yep, Boss Hogg wantabe jr" The book is a very good read/listen. It was not well received by locals who rely on Jones for business. Never bite the hand that feeds you types. I hope that Allen is exposed for the hypocrite that he is. This book could have been a novel of 5000 pages just on the crap that Allen and "Toby" would do or pull. Anyway if you are a local of Cleveland Tn, get it. If not, get it. Rivlin got all of his facts right.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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