Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class


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As a result, anywhere between , and one million consumers are estimated to be unable to afford that steep cost this year. Louis, examined how bankruptcy filings spiked after people received their tax rebates in previous years.

They estimate that another , consumers, who would otherwise not have enough money to file, will use their tax refunds to pay for bankruptcy this year. And there are other expenses on top of that, including fees for mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and a pre-discharge debtor education course. That means many of the Americans who have seen their debt snowball out of control due to events like job loss, foreclosure or a medical emergency during the economic downturn are now left without their last financial lifeline, she said.

💰THIS is why the middle class is BROKE - Debt Free Friday

The cost of filing for bankruptcy has risen in recent years as a result of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which aimed to reduce the number of bankruptcies taking place by adding more requirements to the filing process -- including additional paperwork and the credit counseling and debtor education. While the bankruptcy rate has fallen slightly since the law took effect -- from a rate of 1.

The findings indicate that the new requirements are pricing out many of the consumers who are least able to afford the fees, said Wang.

Billy Brewer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, said bankruptcy attorneys have no choice but to charge such high fees. Those who can't afford the fees should still try to find a pro bono lawyer willing to provide legal services for free, said Wang. However, only a small fraction of people are actually able to get this kind of help.

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And think twice before you decide to go it alone, said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit. The recession has pushed more and more families into financial collapse- with unemployment, declines in retirement wealth, and falling house values destabilizing the American middle class. Broke explores the consequences of this unprecedented growth in consumer debt and shows how excessive borrowing undermines the prosperity of middle class America.

While the recession that began in mid has widened the scope of the financial pain caused by overindebtedness, the problem predated that large-scale economic meltdown. And by all indicators, consumer debt will be a defining feature of middle-class families for years to come. The staples of middle-class life- going to college, buying a house, starting a small business- carry with them more financial risk than ever before, requiring more borrowing and new riskier forms of borrowing. This book reveals the people behind the statistics, looking closely at how people get to the point of serious financial distress, the hardships of dealing with overwhelming debt, and the difficulty of righting one's financial life.

In telling the stories of financial failures, this book exposes an all-too-real part of middle-class life that is often lost in the success stories that dominate the American economic narrative. Authored by experts in several disciplines, including economics, law, political science, psychology, and sociology, Broke presents analyses from an original, proprietary data set of unprecedented scope and detail, the Consumer Bankruptcy Project.

Topics include class status, home ownership, educational attainment, impacts of self-employment, gender differences, economic security, and the emotional costs of bankruptcy. The book makes judicious use of illustrations to present key findings and concludes with a discussion of the implications of the data for contemporary policy debates. Excerpt Katherine Porter The waiting room is ordinary enough—lined with rows of simple metal chairs and barren of decoration other than a government poster of rules and regulations.

Personal bankruptcy is not a rich people problem - Marketplace

Carruthers; Terence C. Halliday Oxford University, Read preview Overview.


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A car and driver were waiting outside. He knew the risks to the city, but he believed his primary obligation was his fiduciary responsibility to his teachers. It was no small thing to make their pension money subject to the same risk.

At the same time, Mayor Beame, convinced that there would be no stay of financial execution, had assembled a small team in the basement of Gracie Mansion. Bridge tenders who raise and lower bridges were essential. Hospital services and keeping the highways open were essential.

Big Mayors, Large and Small

Rubenstein and Beame were friends. At one point in the late sixties and early seventies, Rubenstein had lived across the street from Beame, in Belle Harbor, Queens. Rubenstein asked what they were, and Beame showed him that each was covered with tiny handwriting: he was writing a platform for his mayoral run. In , on the power of that platform, Beame became mayor.

Police, fire, sanitation—those were essential. Hospital and emergency care were, too. But what would the mayor say?

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Even in the moment of crisis, there was some score settling. Beame had no love for the comptroller and wanted him implicated in the bankruptcy. Rubenstein handed Beame the statement after many hours of work. The mayor looked at it, said nothing, and nodded.

Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class
Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class
Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class
Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class
Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class
Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class
Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class
Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class

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