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Download Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.—How the Working Poor Became Big Business Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.—How the Working Poor Became Big Business, by Gary Rivlin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (350 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary Rivlin Narrator: Scott Sowers Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “With revealing stories, Gary Rivlin spotlights the systematic, widespread economic abuse of the poor by supposedly respectable corporations whose predatory conduct breeds misery and undoes many efforts by taxpayers to alleviate poverty.”

    David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal

  • Broke, USA will leave you mad as hell. How could we let this happen, businesses making fistfuls of money off the desperation of working Americans? Thanks, Gary Rivlin, for introducing us to folks like Bill Brennan, who early on saw it coming: predatory lending has destroyed communities. If only we had listened. Broke, USA is a wake-up call.”

    Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City so Real

  • “[A] scathing, important book.”

    New York Times

  • “[A] blistering new investigation of the subprime economy.”

    New Yorker

  • “Mr. Rivlin brings to his subject a genuine gift for storytelling…Tales of poverty made worse by unrepayable loans are moving, and Mr. Rivlin tells them vividly.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A fascinating and very important work of investigation and explanation, which I hope gets the wide attention it deserves. Everyone has heard the story of the economic crises from the top end, featuring the financiers who cut corners and lined their own pockets through arrangements that put world prosperity at risk. Very few people have heard the story from the other end, the way Gary Rivlin tells it: about the struggling families trapped by the legal but grossly unethical practices of pawnshops, payday loan brokers, storefront check-cashing operations, and similar predatory schemes. The abuse of the working poor, as Rivlin describes it, is a hugely growing industry. This is a book with the potential to stimulate outrage—and political reform.”

    James Fallows, author of Breaking the News

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Bonnie G. | 2/4/2014

    " This is one of the most important books on race, class, gender, business, urban and suburban living, and the modern economics of landscape. Supremely well written and edited, I wish everyone that has ever taken a pay day loan could read this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gloria | 1/29/2014

    " Good journalistic read that exposes an under-the-radar yet huge phenomenon of the poverty industry - the hugely successful businesses that thrive by keeping poor people in perpetual debt. Eye-opening, upsetting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Avi | 1/28/2014

    " certainly informative but got a bit repetitive after the first 100 or so pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jay | 1/26/2014

    " I worked my way through this book - it took some doing. Not because it was a difficult read, but because it covers the way people enslave themselves for cash - a difficult subject. It walks through payday loans, instant tax rebates, pawn shops, subprime mortgages, and more, but the stories behind these different financial instruments common in poor areas are very similar, and the sheer number of unbelievably high interest rates quoted in this book, especially in the later chapters, is overwhelming to the point of numbness. I appreciated that there was an attempt to portray both the consumer and the loaner perspective, but the loaner's perspective really doesn't play well - and I couldn't be sure there wasn't some bias against them there. The point of the book, I believe, is that in some markets, people don't use economic sense and heavily discount their future worth, and that is worthy of additional academic treatment. I hope this happens. It also explains why there are soooo many of these finance "storefronts" in existence and how they make their money. I listened on audio - the biggest issue with the audio is that almost all of the quotes from the loaners and the loanees are done in an over-the-top Southern accent, leaving the impression that this is a Southern issue. In fact, most of the source material for this book is taken from North and South Carolina and Ohio, which seems a bit odd for a nationwide issue. I don't recall any place west of the Mississippi being mentioned. The only non-Southern accent sounded stereotypically French, but was of an "African-American". The audio was just a bit off. "

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