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Response to AdHocSolver (Reply #49)

Sun Mar 10, 2013, 08:24 PM

60. Usury laws need to be brought back on the Federal level

I'm no fan of the Fed, as you can see by my sig, but the reason for that huge gap (the banks call that the Net Interest Margin, it's basically their gross profit) that you cite is that usury laws were repealed in the late seventies by the Supreme Court first and then by act of Congress. Congress needs to set a Federal usury limit.
Wikipedia has an excellent explanation of what happened:

Usury statutes in the United States

Each U.S. state has its own statute which dictates how much interest can be charged before it is considered usurious or unlawful.
If a lender charges above the lawful interest rate, a court will not allow the lender to sue to recover the debt because the interest rate was illegal anyway. In some states (such as New York) such loans are voided ab initio.[44]

However, there are separate rules applied to most banks. The U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously in the 1978 Marquette Nat. Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp. case that the National Banking Act of 1863 allowed nationally chartered banks to charge the legal rate of interest in their state regardless of the borrower's state of residence.[45] In 1980, Congress passed the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act. Among the Act's provisions, it exempted federally chartered savings banks, installment plan sellers and chartered loan companies from state usury limits. Combined with the Marquette decision that applied to National Banks, this effectively overrode all state and local usury laws.[46][47] The 1968 Truth in Lending Act does not regulate rates, except for some mortgages, but requires uniform or standardized disclosure of costs and charges.[48]
In the 1996 Smiley v. Citibank case, the Supreme Court further limited states' power to regulate credit card fees and extended the reach of the Marquette decision. The court held that the word "interest" used in the 1863 banking law included fees and, therefore, states could not regulate fees.[49]
Some members of Congress have tried to create a federal usury statute that would limit the maximum allowable interest rate, but the measures have not progressed. In July 2010, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was signed into law by President Obama. The act provides for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to regulate some credit practices but has no interest rate limit.[50]


Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usury#Usury_statutes_in_the_United_States

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