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What You Should Know / January 15, 2012 -- …the poor would stay poor. Without credit cards, poor people would have no money to buy stuff. Thanks to Wall Street, now they do—a contrast with benighted other countries, where they don’t. He seems to forget that the borrowers have to pay the money back, and at often usurious interest rates. Borrowing money at 18% or more is a poor substitute for a decent job and a civilized welfare state. Besides, the poor are not as well endowed with credit cards as Davidson seems to think—only 28% of the poorest fifth of the population carries a balance on its credit cards. That’s about half the share of the middle- and upper-middle income brackets. (See: FRB: 2009P SCF, especially the Excel file.)

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