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Faith Leaders Join The Fight For Lower Payday Loan Rates

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This small wooden church of rudimentary beauty and technical simplicity built on the high bank of the Vistula in Poland is a place of meditation and prayer for the local community. The privately funded building is made entirely of wood with no windows except for one glass wall, which serves as a background for the altar and offers a splendid view over the river and a distant horizon. The steep wooden roof blends seamlessly into the walls; the whole covering is made of small asp chops laid in a pattern. Apart from its function as a spiritual gathering place, the church in Tarnów also strengthened the local community by involving many unskilled local workers in the building process. The technology was therefore kept relatively simple: a concrete slab as a foundation, a timber structure as the main spine of the building plus the wooden cladding. Purely decorative details were completely avoided. (Photo credit: BETON)

The glass wall is the building’s only window and serves as the background for the altar. (Photo credit: BETON)

Munich’s new Church of the Sacred Heart is an open, bright and lively building with a flowing, modular transition from the church- yard through the vestibule into the nave, a clear rejection of the restrictive symbolism of a massive enclosure. The center and focus of the liturgical space is the altar. The area around the altar is a variable structure that can be adapted for different religious celebrations. The interior of the church is formed by two diaphanous concentric shells of contrasting material properties. The glass outer shell allows light of changing intensity, color and refraction to penetrate the room. The inner shell is constructed of maple lamellae, the spaces between them widening towards the altar area to increase the brightness of light. (Photo credit: Florian Holzherr)

The shell shapes are closed at both sides by two opposing portals: the entrance portal is heavy, mechanical, earthy, and colored a deep, dark blue. The portal behind the altar area is of a light, symbolic, almost virtual character. Both portals are decorated with cross motifs, which have a more decorative than meditative function. The large portal to the south can be opened at different angles, depending on the season and the celebration. When the portal is fully opened, the vestibule and the churchyard join to form a continuum of space. (Photo credit: Florian Holzherr)

This Protestant church is centered round a wide nave with six arches and a bell tower symbolizing the seven elements, the seven days of creation and the seven churches of the Orient. The Ciel Rouge vision was to create the impression of an open sky of biblical proportions from which the light and the Holy Spirit descend upon the worshippers. The softly curved arches tuned for fine acoustics resemble a hand held protectively over the crowd. The church, which doubles as a concert hall facility, also features small lodges discreetly positioned within the arches. (Photo credit: Ciel Rouge Creation)

Interior views. The sculptural ceiling symbolizes the hand of God. The custom-made seating by Japanese manufacturer Hohtoku features an angled backrest that doubles as a ledge for prayer books. (Photo credit: Ciel Rouge Creation)

This chapel is a wooden box, built from recycled railway sleepers and suspended from the concrete structure above it. (Photo credit: Leonardo Finotti)

The design of the Holy Rosary Complex — comprising an oratory, administrative block and religious education building — for a rural Catholic parish in south Louisiana is an honest exploration of form, function, light and materials. Neither opulent nor austere, the Holy Rosary campus presents an engaging and profound meditation on sacred space and the spatial embodiment of spiritual experi- ence. The master plan creates a strong sense of place and draws a distinction between the sacred and secular components of the complex. The secular components are located in the linear or edge buildings — an administrative block, two linear classroom bars, and a religious education building — which form the courtyard in which the oratory is located. (Photo credit: Tim Hursley)

The oratory, or chapel, is the focus of the otherwise orthogonal composition, but is skewed to underscore its importance and create a sense of expectation. Working with a limited palette of pour-in-place concrete, plate glass and cast glass, the architects created a meditative environment that places great importance on spatial characteristics and the play of light on these humble materials. The design of the oratory is based on the concept of the womb — a universal, pure and sacred space. All six sides of the oratory cube are equal in size, color and texture. The result is an interior space that feels encompassing, protective, and mysterious. Light enters through a variety of openings carved from the wall thickness without revealing a context or light source beyond. The obscured presence of light gives visitors a sense of orientation and is symbolic of the paschal mystery of Christ. (Photo credit: Tim Hursley)

South of Munich, where the Alps rise beyond Lake Starnberg, is deepest Bavaria, a region known for its conservative Catholicism. And it is here, of all places, that a small Muslim community has built itself a forum with a prayer room in a contemporary architectural style, a courageous undertaking based on the wish for integration. With its distinctive but in no way confrontational appearance, the building and its delicate tower fit into the surroundings of an ordinary village, an already irregular structure with different rooflines and ornaments that range between rustic tradition and post-war monotony. The Augsburg architects arranged the prayer room, the communal and administrative facilities, and an apartment under a single roof on an L-shaped ground plan. Clad in pale stone, the façades clearly indicate the different functions of the rooms, particularly the slightly recessed full-length blue glass ornamented window on the eastern side. The entrance features two concrete slabs that swing out of the wall like open gates, inviting visitors into the house in German and Arabic script; the actual door, made of stainless steel, is open to all. Inside, one is greeted by a classical open-plan staircase, bathed in daylight. To the right, the view opens up into the beautiful prayer room. Daylight enters the room between curved concrete slabs from the side, and in muted tones through the blue glass wall at the front. The flow of light illuminates the ceiling and wall panels, where ornaments embellish the bare concrete. The abstracted star motifs proclaim the 99 names of God in calligraphy. (Photo credit: Ralf Gerard)

View of the forum at night with its ornamented façade. (Photo credit: Angelika Bardehle)

The new LEED Platinum certified synagogue for the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation by Ross Barney Architects replaces the old building at the edge of a residential area, across from a city park and the commuter train tracks. The design balances the limitations of a small site with an ambitious program that uniformly promotes its worship, educational, and community objectives. The design criteria were developed through goal-setting workshops with the JRC board and building committee. The consensus opinion was that the building should symbolically reflect the values of Judaism and Reconstructionism, be as “green” as possible and make a sustainable transition from old to new: The existing synagogue was demolished and the new, larger building was built on the foundations of the old. Local demolition rubble was placed in wire cages to create gabion walls to retain the edges of gardens and children’s playgrounds. (Photo credit: Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing Photographers)

The memorial trees that shaded the old building were cut down and reconstituted as paneling on the ceremonial door to preserve the memory of those associated with their planting and care. The new building has three floors with the congregation offices, early childhood program, and chapel on the first floor, the education offices, classrooms and library on the second floor, and the sanctuary, social hall, and kitchen on the third. Organized to create communal spaces, the design reflects the congregation’s character of a multigenerational group for whom the building is home. The congregation has placed, throughout the building, their collected words — lyrics, testaments, calls for protest — to be added to and enshrined in the building as a permanent testament of the congregation’s work. Art has been commissioned to contain the Torah scrolls and other ceremonial features. (Photo credit: Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing Photographers)

The Lilja (“Lily”) Chapel is an ecumenical chapel of silence, the winner of a design competition organized by UPM Kymmene, the Wood Studio at Oulu University Department of Architecture et al. on the occasion of the Oulu Housing Fair in 2005. The challenge was to create a building identifiable as a sacred space yet one that does without traditional Christian symbolism. The second problem was that of creating a spatial hierarchy in a small building. The solution neatly combines a highly individual yet identifiable form that links a strong feeling for nature with the functional purpose of the building. The chapel is divided into three parts: the vesti- bule, the chapel itself and an outdoor chapel. The chapel is made entirely of wood, with the exception of the glass wall, which acts as the focus of meditation and a background for outdoor events. A water-jet cut plywood motif branches out between the sealed window elements. As light flows through the plywood figure, we are reminded of a forest, the primordial Finnish sanctuary. (Photo credit: Jussi Tiainen)

1. The chapel’s glass wall also serves as the backdrop for the outdoor chapel. 2. Entrance situation of the chapel. (Photo credit: Jussi Tiainen)

Commissioned by the Regent Square United Reformed Church, Theis and Khan Architects designed a new multi-faith center for worship and contemplation within the shell of a 1960s URC church. There are three main elements to the re-design: a café clearly visible from the street through a dramatic 8 m window, a new sacred space for contemplation within the main body of the church, and a new extension housing three community spaces. The former car park at the rear of the building was turned into a garden. The church members and architects chose two artists, Alison Wilding and Rona Smith, to create new three-dimensional art works for specific places in the building. (Photo credit: Nick Kane/Richard Davis)

Interior view. The sacred space has a pivotal function within the church building dividing the new café from the main congregation space. It is lit by a single source of light 11 m above the floor; the light penetrates through the roof and draws the gaze upwards towards the sky. (Photo credit: Nick Kane)

Created by Aaron Westgate, this one-person meditation temple is an exploration in micro-architecture. The temple is designed as a personal space for quietude and contempla- tion, a dedicated retreat from the outside world. In its form, the temple aims to evoke the spirit of meditation. Responding to a cyclical view of time, the circular eave climaxes in a central crest that represents the present moment between past and future. The walls have a chaotic exterior surface, but reveal order and symmetry within. The chambered shape creates a unique auditory environment, in which sound waves overlap and amplify around the occupant’s head. Chanting, or even simple breathing, gains a rich resonance. The structure is composed entirely of byproduct construction materials salvaged from a new home in Montpelier, Vt. The design is a direct response to this self-imposed limitation and aims to show how familiar building components can be used in unconventional ways. The entire cost of construction was $ 28, spent entirely on glue and fasteners. (Photo credit: Aaron Westgate)

1. The Meditation Temple on the forest borderline on top of a rock at Knoll Farm in Vermont, USA. 2. The chambered shape creates a unique auditory space. (Photo credit: Aaron Westgate)

The chapel in La Calera by Daniel Borilla has a basic geometry that tries to alter the territory as little as possible. It uses the natural features of the environment, the wind and the light, to create an essential harmony. The chapel is designed to open to the outside to allow worshippers to gather in great numbers, serving the needs of small private groups and large public functions, a transformation that is a telling symbol in a country of such emphatic contrasts. The relation between a still and a mobile volume represents “the passage between two worlds, between the known and the unknown, the light and the darkness. As the door opens, a mystery is revealed. It has a dynamic and psychological value, not only showing us a landscape, but inviting us to pass through it.” This change of focus, scale and perspective also transforms the components of the chapel. The space traditionally reserved for the altar is given to the choir; the main nave is turned into the lateral nave, and the tabernacle becomes part of the landscape. The positioning of the building was scrupulously studied to make these structural variations possible. The materials work on the same principles, echoing the natural surroundings. The rigid structures are static as the stones, while the mobile body of steel, glass and wood forms an interwoven design. The reflecting pond, on one side of the chapel, dissolves the massive structure into the landscape, accentuating and distorting its volume to eradicate its density. (Photo credit: Alberto Fonseca)

Interior view of the altar space. The chapel is designed for small private groups and large public functions as large doors can transform the chapel from a still volume to a mobile space. (Photo credit: Alberto Fonseca)

Situated in Perugia, Italy, the city of Foligno has endured its share of natural disasters, including destruction by earthquake on several occasions, most recently in 1997. The project was given the go-ahed in 2001 after wining national competition organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference for the construction of a new church. It is situated on the very spot of a container camp that once provided shelter to the homeless and is intended as a sign of hope for the area. The church building is conceived as a box within a box, and the interior view of the congregation space shows the two rectangles inserted into one another. (Photo credit: Moreno Maggi)

Stephan Doitschinoff, the Brazilian street artist also known as Calma, has a unique visual language that embraces his eclectic influences. The son of an Evangelical minister, Doitschinoff spent his childhood absorbing the vocabulary of religious art. Themes in his work are inspired by an informed spiritual history and heritage, filtered through a distinctly urban point of view. The resulting imagery is rich in religious symbolism and often accompanied by Latin text as well as pichação (a style of graffiti writing native to São Paulo). He has emblazoned his emblematic and spiritual paintings on houses, churches and walls in rural villages in his South American homeland. His metaphoric imagery feeds off Afro-Brazilian folklore, pagan and alchemic symbolism and contemporary pop culture. Inspired by religious street festivals popular in Brazil, such as São João and Nosso Senhor dos Passos, he uses a variety of materials such as paper flags, silk fabric and hand-painted kites to create altars and emulate traditional processional decorations in site-specific installations. (Photo credit: Alexandre Vianna)

Built on a strip of wasteland on St. Jakobs Square near the site of the eponymous Ohel Jakob Synagogue destroyed in the November pogrom 68 years ago, the Jewish Center by Wandel Hoefer Lorch is composed of three buildings: a synagogue and community center (run by the Jewish community), and the Jewish Museum (run by the City of Munich). The new buildings are integrated in the city center through their explicit use of public space. A succession of squares, paths, and passage-ways between the Jewish Center and the neighboring buildings emphasizes the open and public character of the complex. The free-standing synagogue, the main building, is set on a closed stone base with a filigree glass-steel construction rising from its center. The solid base is a metaphorical reference to the Temple of Solomon, while the metal mesh and glass construction of the lantern refers to the traditional portable tabernacle, or tent. The Jewish Museum is the smallest entity in the complex and acts as the communicating element between the synagogue and the community center. An introverted cube with a glazed ground floor, the museum echoes the material duality of the synagogue building. Displaying a palpable tension between fragility and mass, between openness and compactness, the museum building has its own identity and weight. The community center building is the largest element in the complex. Fragmented in different blocks, it has two undergrounds floors and six upper floors housing a youth center, an arts center, event rooms, dining facilities, a school, childcare facilities, and administrative offices. (Photo credit: Roland Halbe)

Interior of the synagogue. (Photo credit: Roland Halbe)

This summer house, built originally for English Heritage at Belsay Hall, Northumberland, now resides at Grisedale Forest in the Lake District. The design is based on a Romanesque church. It is clad in thousands of metal discs, which create a pixelated pattern depicting oversized Romanesque decorations. The discs move and catch the light in the wind creating a magical effect of rippling light. Inside are two seats from which to contemplate the forest that is visible through the window. (Photo credit: Fashion Architecture Taste)


Rangers need more cash to pay for day-to-day expenses

RANGERS last night revealed they will require “significant further funds” to meet their day-to-day costs by the beginning of next year.

The club posted an £8.3million loss in their latest financial accounts, published last night. Figures for Rangers International Football Club plc to June 30 this year show losses have almost halved from around £14million last year but again laid bare the precarious cash picture at Ibrox.

The accounts showed that former chief executive Graham Wallace, who received a £100,000 pay-off when he left the club following the completion of Ashley’s loan deal, picked up nearly £380,000 between November last year and June 2014.

Former finance director Brian Stockbridge, who became a hate figure for fans due to his relationship with Charles Green, pocketed nearly £220,000, while Craig Mather got a bumper £350,000 golden handshake when he resigned as chief executive in October last year.

While there was £4.6m cash in the bank on June 30, just over £3m of this is related to Rangers Retail Limited and “not immediately available as working capital”.

There were also increases in money received from sponsorship and advertising and broadcasting rights but there was a £323,000 reduction in commercial revenue.

It leaves Rangers facing another cash shortage unless they can source more outside investment, with the board set for a stormy shareholder summit when fans and investors gather at Ibrox for the AGM next month.

Auditors Deloitte warn that the firm “requires additional funding to continue to meet its liabilities as they fall due”.

But Rangers say they have “several options open to them to raise the required funds and have been approached by several parties wanting to offer funds on a secured basis”.

Most of the cash, which is likely to come from a fresh share issue if the motion is agreed by shareholders at the AGM on December 22, will be required in the early months of next year as the board continues to face significant funding issues while Ally McCoist’s side bid for promotion back to the Premiership this season.

The Ibrox hierarchy have come under huge pressure from supporters in recent months and will again face tough questions after posting accounts that also show that:

l Revenue is up from £19.1million to £25.2m;

l Staff costs were down from £17.9m to £14.7m;

l Revenue from season tickets dropped from £8.1m to £7.7m;

l Cash at June 30 was £4.6m;

l Retail revenue rose from £1.6m to £7.6m;

Rangers have faced a number of cash challenges in the last 12 months and, after repaying loans to Sandy Easdale, chairman of the club’s football board, and fan George Letham worth a total of £1.5m, the Ibrox side had to take out two loans totalling £3m from Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley while an open share offer raised £3.13m.

In his report to shareholders, RIFC plc chairman David Somers again outlined the reasons behind the board accepting a deal from Ashley in favour of a £16m bail-out from Dave King’s consortium and an offer from businessman Brian Kennedy, a call which infuriated supporters.

Somers admitted there would be more “testing times ahead” for Rangers but said he was “confident we’ll continue to successfully clear every hurdle put in front of us”.

The club last week confirmed that 10 members of behind the scenes staff at Ibrox had been made redundant and overall staffing levels and costs have been reduced in the last 12 months.

A total of £1.9m has been saved on wages, with manager McCoist’s decision to half his annual salary and a reduction in the cash paid out to players playing a significant part.

The ratio of first team wages to turnover has been reduced from 43% to 26% but season ticket sales and average attendances fell by around 2000 and 4000 respectively.

Somers said: “Some fans decided not to renew their season tickets but stated that they will continue to support the team by attending on a match-by-match basis. We respect everybody’s decision to make the choice they feel is right for them although, at the time of writing, the number of fans attending our home league games so far this season is down year-on-year.

“This has had a large negative effect on our balance sheet and reduces our ability to move forward with the desired momentum and the club has been compelled to seek additional funding.”

Related Articles:

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Site Last Updated 12:46 am, Sunday

BALIK PULAU: Police arrested a man, believed to be a loan shark and seized RM545,599 in cash in a raid on his house in Teluk Kumbar, here, on Thursday.

A police spokesman said the 35- year-old suspect tried to escape in the 2.30pm raid but failed, as a team from the Commercial Crime Investigation Division of the Southwest district police headquarters had cordoned the house.

“Acting on information from the public and intelligence report, a team of policemen, through Op Cenderawasih, raided the house and arrested the man.

“While conducting a search at the house, the police team also found RM545,499 in cash, 51 withdrawal slips from various banks, 96 loan cards from various banks, 51 cheques for almost RM1 million and 10 savings account books from various banks,” he said, here, yesterday.

The spokesman said police also found three machetes which were suspected to be used in illegal money lending activities.

The initial police investigation found the man had been carrying out the illegal activity since last year and had been imposing high charges on the borrowers.

Penang CID deputy chief, ACP P R Gunalan, when contacted, confirmed the man’s arrest and that he was being remanded to assist in the investigation.

He urged those who had borrowed money from the man to come forward to facilitate the investigation. — Bernama


Avoid reverse mortgage regrets

Lots of people don’t fully understand how reverse mortgages work, and the resulting confusion can leave them with a lot of regrets.

Reverse mortgages were largely created for seniors who are cash-poor but house-rich – they have a lot of equity in their homes. The idea was to allow seniors to remain in their homes by borrowing a portion of their equity to supplement their incomes.

To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you have to be 62 or older. But unlike traditional home loan products, there is no monthly payment. The loan isn’t due until the borrower moves, sells or dies.

The overwhelming majority of borrowers get a reverse mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program.

I recently wrote about the loan product and many readers had questions and concerns.

One wrote: “It is recommended that the prospective borrower seek the guidance of a counselor. How independent are these counselors? My late cousin had obtained a reverse mortgage to supplement her limited pension. My impression was that the ‘counselor’ essentially presented my cousin with the different options of receiving the reverse mortgage (lump sum, monthly, etc.) rather than the associated costs, requirements and risks.”

Counseling is not recommended, it’s required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Borrowers have to use HUD-approved housing counselors, who must discuss not just how a reverse mortgage works and its eligibility requirements but the financial implications of getting this type of loan. They also are supposed to talk about alternatives. Their job is to help guide people to make their own decisions about whether the product is right for them.

Counselors are allowed to charge for counseling, but the agency must tell you about the fee before charging it. Fees are typically about $125, but some agencies charge less. Agencies are also required to waive the counseling fee if a borrower can’t afford it. You can pay the fee directly to the agency or out of your loan proceeds.

Another reader wrote: “A home equity line of credit can serve the same function as a reverse mortgage at much lower costs, and with the potential of being able to withdraw a larger percentage of equity than with a reverse mortgage. Am I missing something?”

The problem with a line of credit for cash-strapped seniors is that they may not qualify for the loan and they have to make monthly payments. The appeal of a reverse mortgage is that no monthly payment is required.

I also received a heart-wrenching note from one senior in Florida whose husband had taken out a reverse mortgage. She had signed over her rights to their home to her husband so that he could get a higher mortgage amount. She was 57 at the time. He was 62.

Some people, who married later in life, never add the spouse to the deed to a home that one spouse owned previously, said Jean Constantine-Davis, senior attorney with AARP Foundation Litigation. “More commonly, the younger spouses are talked into quit-claiming their interest in the home by mortgage brokers to generate higher draw on equity,” she said. “The couples virtually never understand that under the terms of the mortgage, when the borrowing spouse dies, the surviving spouse will be foreclosed on and evicted.”

That’s what happened to the reader.

“They assured me there would be no problem in adding my name back when I turned 62,” she wrote. “They failed to tell us that would require qualifying for a refinance.”

Now they can’t afford to refinance.


New Mexico urged to limit ‘payday’ loan rates



MARTIN: Encouraged by some developments

One of the worst things a person without the financial wherewithal to repay a loan can do is take out a so-called “payday” or “storefront” loan to buy Christmas gifts.

But, with the holidays here, and because it is so easy to get such loans, that’s exactly what many low-income people are likely to do. Predatory lenders encourage the practice.

That’s the message University of New Mexico law professor Nathalie Martin hopes to get out to would-be borrowers. She would also like to see interest rates capped statewide at 36 percent.

“I think it’s getting a little more likely that the state Legislature will act,” she said.

Martin – and others – are encouraged by a number of developments:

In 2007, with broad bipartisan support, President Bush signed the Military Lending Act, placing a 36 percent limit on interest rates on loans to armed forces personnel. In September, with lenders seeking to circumvent the MLA, the Defense Department proposed new and stronger regulations to shore up the law. The cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Alamogordo and Las Cruces, and Doña Ana County – and the New Mexico Municipal League and Association of Counties – have adopted resolutions supporting a 36 percent annual percentage rate cap. Eighteen states have imposed interest rate limits of 36 percent or lower, most of them in recent years. In Georgia, it is now a crime to charge exorbitant interest on loans to people without the means to pay them back. In 2007, New Mexico enacted a law capping interest rates on “payday” loans at 400 percent. Many of the lenders quickly changed the loan descriptions from “payday” to “installment,” “title” or “signature” to get around the law.

But this past summer, the New Mexico Supreme Court, citing studies by Martin, held that “signature” loans issued by B&B Investment Group were “unconscionable.” B&B’s interest rates were 1,000 percent or higher.

High-interest lenders argue that they provide a much-needed source of funds for people who would not ordinarily qualify for loans, even those who are truly in need. One lender, Cash Store, in an ad typical for the industry promises borrowers that they can get “cash in hand in as little as 20 minutes during our regular business hours – no waiting overnight for the money you need” and boasts a loan approval rate of over 90 percent. It also offers “competitive terms and NO credit required. Be treated with respect by friendly store associates. Installment loans are a fast, easy way to get up to $2,500.”

Pushing a cap

Martin teaches commercial and consumer law. She also works in the law school’s “live clinic,” where she first came into contact with those she calls “real-life clients,” people who had fallen into the trap of payday loans.

“I would never have thought in my wildest dreams that this was legal, interest rates of 500 percent, 1,000 percent or even higher,” she said.

Martin is not alone in fighting sky-high interest rates and supporting a 36 percent cap.

Assistant Attorney General Karen Meyers of the Consumer Protection Division noted that it wasn’t simply interest rates that the Supreme Court unanimously objected to as procedurally unconscionable in New Mexico v. B&B Investment Group.

The court also addressed the way the loans were marketed and the fact that B&B “aggressively pursued borrowers to get them to increase the principal of their loans,” all of which constitutes a violation of law.

In another lawsuit from 2012, New Mexico v. FastBucks, the judge found the loans to be “Unfair or deceptive trade practices and unconscionable trade practices (which) are unlawful.”

Long legal road

Both the B&B and Fastbucks cases were filed in 2009 and ultimately went to trial. The time period indicates the commitment of the Attorney General’s Office and how long it takes a case to wend its way through the legal system.

Each of the cases dealt with one business entity, although they often do business under several names. B&B, for example, an Illinois company, operated as Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans.

According to the president of B&B, James Bartlett, the company came to New Mexico to do business because “there was no usury cap” here.

Early this year, a survey by Public Policy Polling found that 86 percent of New Mexicans support capping interest at an annual rate of 36 percent. Many people think that is too high.

Meyers said predatory lending profits depend on repeat loans. Analysts estimate that the business only becomes profitable when customers have rolled over their loans four or five times.

‘Really heartbreaking’

“We have interviewed a lot of consumers,” she said. “It’s really heartbreaking.”

Steve Fischman, a former state senator and chairman of the New Mexico Fair Lending Coalition, said three-fourths of short-term borrowers in the state roll over loans into new loans, which is precisely what predatory lenders want.

“New Mexico is one of the worst states when it comes to such loans, because we have the weakest law,” he said.

The coalition is working with lawmakers to draft a bill that would impose the 36 percent cap. It is likely to come up in the next session. But the chances of passage, despite popular sentiment, are unknown.

The Legislature has failed to act in the past, Fischman said, largely because of the many paid lobbyists – including former lawmakers – working for the lenders. He described the Roundhouse back-slapping as “bipartisan corruption.”

The National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan national archive of such donations, reports that, thus far this year, payday lenders have made 122 contributions totalling $97,630 to state lawmakers.

Opponents of storefront loans say one way some lenders entice the poor into taking out loans is to cajole them with smiles and misinformation. Loan offices – often in lower-income neighborhoods – often become places for people to hang out and socialize. Agents behind the loan office desks pass themselves off as friends.

But, Fischman said, “A lot of people thought Bernie Madoff was their friend.”

Creating crises

The Pew Charitable Trust and the Center for Responsible Lending, acting independently, reported last year that the cost of the loans turn temporary financial shortfalls into long-term crises. After rolling their initial loans over, perhaps more than once, borrowers find that they’re paying up to 40 percent of their paychecks to repay the loans.

Prosperity Works, an Albuquerque-based nonprofit striving to improve financial circumstances for lower-income New Mexicans, is a strong supporter of the effort to cap loans.

President and CEO Ona Porter said one drawback of the short-term, high-interest loans is the effect they often have on individuals’ credit ratings. “And credit scores are now used as a primary screen for employment,” she said.

The loans do little, if anything, to boost the state’s economy. A 2013 study by the Center for Community Economic Development found that, for every dollar spent on storefront loan fees, 24 cents is subtracted from economic activity.

UNM’s Martin has conducted five studies related to high-cost lending practices. She firmly believes that low-income people are better off if they don’t take out unlimited numbers of high-cost loans and that such forms of credit cause more harm than good.

“They are neither safe nor affordable,” she said.


Payday loan adverts could be banned on television before 9pm …

Payday loan commercials could be banned from TV before the 9pm watershed, under proposals being considered by the UK advertising regulator.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (Bcap), the body responsible for writing the rules for TV ads, is already looking at the content of payday loan commercials.

The government has now asked Bcap to extend the scope of its review to look at the scheduling of payday loans ads and a potential pre-watershed ban.

This extension of the investigation was revealed by Baroness Jolly, a Liberal Democrat peer, in a session in the Lords discussing the report stage of the consumer rights bill on Wednesday.

“Treasury ministers have asked Bcap to broaden the remit of its review to ensure that it also considers the appropriateness of its scheduling rules, as well as those around content,” she said. “Treasury ministers are writing to Bcap formally to set out this request. Bcap has agreed to this and will expand its review with a view to publication of its findings, in full, in the new year.”

The extension of the review will push back publication deadline of Bcap’s investigation into payday loan ads, which began in June and was due imminently.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it has banned 25 payday loan ads since April 2013.

The existing advertising code already prohibits payday loan ads from encouraging under 18s to either take out a loan or pester others to do so for them. The rules also require that ads must be socially responsible.

According to research by the media regulator Ofcom children on average see around 1.3 payday loan ads on television per week, out of around 17 hours of weekly TV viewing.

Payday loans ads comprised a relatively small 0.6% of TV ads seen by children aged four to fifteen, according to Ofcom.

The Consumer Finance Association, which represents payday lenders making up 60% of the multibillion pound a year UK industry, and Wonga have explicit policies not to advertise on children’s TV.

“We are pleased to see the government recognise that this is a problem,” said Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs the National Debtline.

“On the debt advice frontline we have become increasingly concerned that high cost credit is in danger of becoming normalised amongst young people. Restrictions on payday loan advertising before the watershed, on the same basis as those already in place for gambling and alcohol, would be a very welcome step.”

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Tourism cash to repay $150mln Chinese loan for Vic Falls airport expansion

TRANSPORT minister Obert Mpofu has told the tourism ministry to aggressively market the country’s premier tourism destination to help repay a $150 million Chinese loan to upgrade the Victoria Falls International Airport.

China Exim Bank provided the loan for the expansion work being carried out by China Jiangsu which includes the construction of a new 4km runway, a new international terminal building, upgrading domestic terminal building, new fire station, new control tower and state –of–the art aviation specialist equipment.

The new terminal building will be able to handle 1,2million passengers per annum from 400,000 currently while the new runway would enable the airport to handle wide body aircraft.

Mpofu said government’s ability to repay the loan would depend on the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s marketing initiatives.

“The airport is almost complete now and this is the time to start marketing it so that we get more airlines and tourists coming,” said Mpofu during a media tour of the airport.

“The tourism ministry is the biggest beneficiary. It is now up to you ZTA to market the airport starting now because this project benefits you mostly.

“Without that government will not be able to repay the loan because no money will come in if there are no tourists and airlines using the airport.”

ZTA chief operating officer Givemore Chidzidzi said they would continually market the country, with prominence given to new facilities such as Victoria Falls airport.

“There is a lot of work to be done. We have upped the game and will always market the new look airport to lure more visitors,” said Chidzidzi.

The Victoria Falls corporate community, which is dominated by tour operators, has pledged to extensively market the resort town.

Zimbabwe Council of Tourism representative Barbara Murasiranwa said they were prepared to partner government in marketing Victoria Falls.

“As stakeholders we are going to assist,” said Murasiranwa who is also Hotel Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) deputy president.

“We are not going to have an ‘us and them attitude’. At the moment we are working with Zimra, Civil aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and immigration and we have spent $25,000 in three months giving water to clients at ports of entry.

“Temperatures are usually high at this time of the year and we thought we should take care of our visitors. We have five planes landing at the airport at almost the same time and we took it upon ourselves to help with water.”


Murasiranwa said they were encouraged by the fact that government is making plans to make Victoria Falls a tourism hub.

“We are already marketing the airport and all our brochures and websites feature the new look facility,” she added.

Construction activity is likely to be complete by June next year, with commissioning expected in August, Mpofu said.


New Payday Loan Service Charges Zero. Too Good to Be True?

Here at Money Talks News, we’re not big fans of payday loans.

In fact, they suck. They may be worse than you thought. And they most definitely top our list of the dumbest ways to borrow money.

So why are we devoting a whole article to the latest payday lender? Because it works under a slightly different model, one that theoretically doesn’t suck. That’s because it doesn’t require you to pay anything in exchange for receiving an advance on your paycheck.

Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson talked to Ram Palaniappan, CEO for Activehours, to find out more. Watch the clip to see what Stacy thought about the service and then keep reading to decide whether the website will work for you.

Watch the video of ‘New Payday Loan Service Charges Zero. Too Good to Be True?’ on

The basics of Activehours

At its core, Activehours works on the same principle as a payday lender. Cash-strapped individuals can get a short-term loan to tide them over until their next paycheck arrives.

However, the details are a little different from what you might see from a traditional payday lender. Here’s a rundown:

Activehours is available only to hourly workers who have direct deposit and online or computerized time sheets. Uber and Lyft drivers are also eligible.The service verifies time sheets, calculates a “take home” hourly rate and makes advances available based upon hours that have not yet been paid out.Individuals can cash out their available hours as needed. Not all hours will be available initially, and workers may be able to request larger advances once they become established users of Activehours.Money is direct deposited into a bank account. Repayments are automatically withdrawn from the same account.Activehours does not charge any interest or fees. Instead, it asks users to provide a tip, in the amount of their choosing, for the service.

Tipping could get costly

That last point is what really sets Activehours apart from the competition. And the ability to choose if and how much to pay for the service could make it seem as though this payday loan is a bargain.

However, that may not always be the case. As Stacy points out in the video, a $10 tip for a $100 loan over a two-week period could end up being the equivalent of paying 260 percent interest. Still, it beats paying a $35 overdraft fee.

If you think you’re going to need to dip into a source of emergency cash on a regular basis, you may be better off finding a low-interest credit card or one with low cash-advance fees (assuming you pay it off as soon as you’re paid). But even that isn’t ideal. And that brings us to our final point.

Time to stop living beyond your means

The real problem with Activehours isn’t that you might give too big of a tip and end up paying what could translate into an outrageous interest rate.

No, the real problem with Activehours is that it serves as a crutch to let you live beyond your means. And that’s not something unique to Activehours. You could say the same about other payday lenders, as well as any credit card upon which you regularly carry a balance.

They all give you a bandage to place over the symptom of a much larger problem. That problem is usually that you either earn too little or you spend too much.

In a perfect world, you’d have money in the bank to cover life’s little emergencies, and you wouldn’t have to scramble to find someone to give you cash today. However, when you spend too much or earn too little, it may feel impossible to ever get money to stay in the bank. You need to do some serious soul-searching to decide how best to tackle the problem.

We have plenty of advice for you here at Money Talks News. If you want to save money, start by reading these articles:

“9 Easy Ways to Save $100 or More a Month.”“7 Extreme Ways to Save Money.”“10 Ways to Save Money When You’re Making Minimum Wage.”“7 Money-Saving Tips People Often Forget About.”

On the other hand, if you want to make more money, try these articles:

“22 Odd and Unusual Ways to Make Extra Money.”“Can Ride-Sharing Provide an ‘Uber-Lyft’ to Your Income?““17 Great Jobs That Don’t Require a 4-Year College Degree.”“The 10 College Majors with the Best Starting Salaries.”

As for Activehours, if you need a payday loan, it may be your best bet right now. Just be careful about the amount you tip. To learn more about using Activehours or other personal loan services, visit this page of our Solutions Center.

However, we hope you’ll take stock of your financial situation, create a budget that works and walk away from payday loans forever.

This article was originally published on as ‘New Payday Loan Service Charges Zero. Too Good to Be True?’.

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Junk-Loan Volume Plunges as Yields Rise: Credit Markets

Leveraged loan issuance plummeted in the U.S. this month as investors punished borrowers in an increasingly volatile market for high-yield, high-risk debt.

Borrowers including TransFirst Inc. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. have sold $6.5 billion of U.S leveraged loans to institutional investors in what’s poised to be the slowest November since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Volume was almost $30 billion in October. Fewer deals are getting done after loan prices plunged more than 3 percent last month from a July peak and yields rose to 6.2 percent, the highest in more than two years.

“I’m not expecting an explosion of deal flow,” John Fraser, managing partner at the U.S. debt arm of London private equity firm 3i Group Plc, said in a phone interview on Nov. 21. “A lot of borrowers have already done what they were trying to do,” said Fraser, whose unit oversees $4.2 billion in assets.

The drop-off in issuance comes as regulators scrutinize Wall Street’s lending practices and demand for the speculative-grade debt fades. Leveraged loans are typically issued by companies that have ratings of less than Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and below BBB- by Standard & Poor’s.

‘Still Suffering’

The loans have returned 2.4 percent this year, down from 4.6 percent in the similar period of 2013 and underperforming 4.1 percent gains from U.S. junk bonds, according to the Standard & Poor’s/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan 100 and Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes.

Banks have arranged $473 billion of U.S. institutional loans this year, compared with a record of about $700 billion in all of 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The loan market is still suffering from cash flowing out from mutual funds,” said Peter Toal, Barclays Plc’s New York-based head of global leveraged finance syndicate.

Investors have pulled a net $15.5 billion from U.S. mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that buy leveraged loans this year, according to Lipper, the data provider owned by Thomson Reuters Corp. In April, they snapped 95 straight weeks of inflows that included a record $62.9 billion of deposits last year.

Receding Demand

Demand began receding about seven months ago, kicking off the biggest flight from the debt since 2008 as investors abandoned expectations that interest rates would rise as a result of the Federal Reserve tightening its monetary policy. Payments collected from loans are usually tied to floating benchmark rates, unlike bonds, which typically offer fixed coupons.

The reversal shifted the power into the hands of investors asking for more favorable terms, including increased yields by selling the loans at discounts.

“Almost no matter what you show them, they are rolling up their sleeves and saying ‘What else do I want?’” said Kevin Lockhart, co-head of global leveraged finance at Jefferies Group LLC in New York. “That is different from the first half of this year, when investors were essentially forced to accept terms they did not necessarily like.”

Regulators shifted to a deal-by-deal review of the debt in recent months, showing new urgency in avoiding the kind of risky lending that was blamed for igniting the financial crisis, people with knowledge of the matter said in September.

European Issuance

Leveraged loan issuance in Europe fell to 2.1 billion euros ($2.6 billion) this month, the lowest for any period in almost four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with a seven-year high of 19.7 billion euros in June, the data show.

“The high levels of market volatility had an impact across the market,” according to Dagmar Kent-Kershaw, the London-based head of credit fund management at Intermediate Capital Group Plc. “It feels now as if there’s an early close down for 2014.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. last week increased the discount on a loan backing Tibco Software Inc.’s more than $4 billion buyout by Vista Equity Partners to 95 cents on the dollar after failing to attract investors at 98.5 cents to 99 cents, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

Jefferies helped arrange the software maker’s loan, which was increased by $20 million to $1.67 billion, and will pay interest at 5.5 percentage points more than the London interbank offered rate, 1 percentage point higher than originally proposed.

‘Just Acquisitions’

Tibco is graded B3 by Moody’s. That’s the lowest level of a category the ratings company considers to be “high credit risk” and “speculative.” S&P gives it an equivalent B-.

Generally, “spreads are still wide given fundamentals,” Leland Hart, the head of loans at BlackRock Inc. in New York, said in a telephone interview. The trailing 12-month global speculative-grade default rate was 2.3 percent in October, remaining below the historical average of 4.7 percent, according to Moody’s.

“It’s just acquisitions that need to get done that are coming to the market today,” said Lockhart. ‘We’re not seeing opportunistic financings, so you’re seeing things driven by the M&A calendar.’’

Jefferies, the top arranger this month of U.S. institutional loans, is leading $1.8 billion of bank debt for private-equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC’s $2.5 billion buyout of Detroit-based software provider Compuware Corp., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Below Par

Jefferies also arranged $1 billion of loans for Vista Equity Partners’ takeover of Happauge, New York-based TransFirst this month, while Norwegian Cruise Line of Miami turned to Barclays to help arrange a $350 million term loan backing its acquisition of Prestige Cruises International Inc., Bloomberg data show.

With loans trading below par after market volatility last month, investors are being more selective partly because they don’t have to rely on new deals for bargains.

Loan prices averaged 97.2 cents on the dollar yesterday, after plunging mid-October to an almost two-year year low of 95.7 cents, according to the S&P/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan 100 index. Prices are still down from this year’s peak of 99.1 cents in July.

“There is no specific new issue I need to buy because there are so many opportunities in the secondary market,” BlackRock’s Hart said.

While Jefferies is looking at a lot of potential financings for acquisitions that have yet to be announced, the firm doesn’t expect to bring those deals to market next month, according to Lockhart.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a very busy December,” he said. “Most people are looking right now to January.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Idzelis in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shannon D. Harrington at Mitchell Martin

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7 ways to get quick cash besides risky payday loans | Las Vegas …

The holiday shopping season is coming up, and people in search of some quick spending capital might strongly consider taking out a payday loan. Think about it — it’s a quick source of cash without the need for the credit checks and extensive protocols synonymous with personal lending. It sounds too good to be true.

That’s because it is. More than 19 million people struggling with their finances take out one of these unsecured personal loans each year without seeing the danger signs pointing to their finances, like insanely high, triple-digit interest rates. “Unlike other loans, payday loans must be repaid in full on the borrower’s next payday at annual interest rates of around 400 percent,” wrote Melissa Rayworth over at TakePart. Rayworth also noted that up to 97 percent of people will borrow from a payday loan again.

Payday loan borrowers are also exposed to a downward spiral of debt that can last months (if not years), a wrecked credit standing and predatory, aggressive collection practices from debtors who want immediate repayment. “If you take out a payday loan, you’re going to come out the financial loser almost every time,” wrote Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar. “They almost always cause more problems than they solve.”

Before funding your post-Black Friday Christmas shopping with a payday loan, look at some of these simpler — and reasonably safer — ways to get some money fast.

Avoid Payday Loans with these Quick Cash Alternatives

1. Take out a Payday Alternative Loan.

Yes, these actually exist. Veridian Credit Union, for example, offers a PAL with a maximum loan amount of $1,000 and a six-month repayment term at an interest rate of around 20% (usually regardless of a borrower’s credit score). While not the lowest interest rate, it’s more manageable than the high interest and short repayment terms of a payday loan. Another option is to consult with your bank or credit union about a small personal loan with better security, terms and interest.

2. Get a cash advance from your credit card.

Another similar, yet less expensive option, is to contact your credit card carrier for a modest cash advance. Again, the interest rates might not be the lowest, but this time, you’re borrowing against your own credit limit and not some third-party payday provider. If the cash advance option seems too insurmountable to you, simply use your credit card for your holiday shopping, and avoid using it again until you’ve paid down your balance.

3. Withdraw from your emergency fund.

If the added interest of using your credit card is too much to deal with, you can always try taking just enough cash from your emergency fund to cover holiday shopping expenses. Since you act as your own lender here, this loan is entirely up to you to repay — but financial discipline is important. Let too much time go by, and you might never get around to replenishing what you borrowed, and you might not have enough money if a real emergency arises.

4. Ask your employer for an advance.

Your job might may permit you a cash advance taken from your next paycheck. It’s not a loan, so you won’t have to deal with interest or repayment since it’s money that you have earned. However, keep in mind that if you ask for $200, be prepared for your next paycheck to reflect that difference. It’s also wise not to make a habit of asking for cash advances; taking frequent financial shortcuts could leave a bad impression with your employer. Request some holiday overtime; the extra hours can yield you some extra cash.

5. Sell, pawn or auction off unwanted belongings.

Now’s a better time than ever to sell some of those old things taking up space in your house. It could be anything from a used cell phone, to furniture, vintage clothing, appliances and more, a rich source of quick cash. Go the online route, like eBay, Amazon Marketplace or Craigslist. Visit some local pawn shops or thrift stores and see what kind of offer they’ll make for your items.

6. Reduce your spending.

In the spirit of the holidays, is there anything you can temporarily cut back on — or eliminate entirely — to gain some Christmas cash? Put your gym membership on hold for a month or two, cook at home more than eating out, and save on gas by taking public transportation. Aim to spend less disposable income on clothes and entertainment, since this is the season for buying those things for your friends and family. Some financial experts even suggest adjusting the tax withheld from your paycheck so you’ll have more cash available now versus later.

7. Open a holiday savings account.

This is not a source of “quick” money per se, but if you’re in a cash crunch this holiday, open a savings account designed to save money for holiday shopping. Your bank or credit union of choice might have its own version that can give you higher interest and generous deposit limits. Start now and have plenty of reserve money available by Christmas 2015, enough that finding an alternative source of cash won’t even be necessary.

Use these tips as a start and brainstorm some more ways you might be able to save money during the holidays. Asking a friend or family member to borrow money can be a good option during a financial crunch or crisis, but it’s not always recommended. Even if the money is repaid on time, borrowing from a parent or sibling and then using that money to purchase a gift for them isn’t very considerate. In this case, opt for a more economical gift, or express your creativity by making your own. They’ll appreciate your gesture more than money can ever buy.