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loan shark fishing season September 27, 2007

Posted by Bradley in : Uncategorized , trackback
shark

While concerns about subprime lending have dominated the news recently there are other areas of lending which raise concerns. The UK Government is supporting a number of projects to address loan sharking (mostly illegal lending) in different parts of the country, including for example London and Bristol. The Association of British Credit Unions has welcomed the attacks on loan sharks, arguing that credit unions, which currently serve a small proportion of UK borrowers, are a much better option. There are some similar concerns expressed in rule-making in the US, although much of the current concern in the UK seems to be aimed specifically at the informal sector, and payday lenders in the US have close links to mainstream banking.

The online etymology dictionary suggests that it is possible that the term shark applied first to lenders and only subsequently to the marine animal. My Concise Oxford Dictionary suggests a slightly more complex relationship between the two meanings (and see languagehat on this point). But the linkage has been convenient for those who have tried to focus the attention of legislators on predatory lending.

On a more general level, the behaviors of lenders illustrated by loan adverts like this one have provoked critical reactions

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