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Title: The regulation and development of the British moneylending and pawnbroking markets, 1870-2016
Author: McMahon, Craig M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 9889
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the regulation and development of the moneylending and pawnbroking markets in Britain since the 1870s. The six regulatory episodes examined illustrate how the role of state intervention in these markets has been debated, and how it has evolved. The thesis asks: what were the motivations for reform, which market features were regulators most concerned with, and what were their proposed solutions? It demonstrates how majority and minority viewpoints have informed regulation and documents the often-conflicting expectations of how regulation was meant to influence lending decisions, borrower outcomes and poverty. By identifying the primary motivating factors behind regulation, the study answers why and how some policymakers sought to restrict low-income borrowers from gaining access to credit. It finds that policymakers have shifted their focus from market competition and freedom of consumer choice towards financial inclusion and poverty reduction. The result is a better understanding of the regulation and development of two credit products that were, and remain, vital to the working class. This research shows that the motivations for reform have varied over time. In 1872, 1900, 1927, 2006 and after the Great Recession, policymakers sought to restrict ‘illegitimate, evil and predatory’ small loan lenders, who were accused of exacerbating the conditions of the poor. In 1974, policymakers sought enhanced regulation such as information disclosure to increase market competition and decrease the cost of borrowing. In 2014, the FCA believed that the payday loan market still lacked price competition and implemented price controls as a corrective measure. Less varied were the issues of concern and proposed solutions. This research identifies five main areas of regulatory concern: the high cost of loans, advertising, the use of an annual percentage rate (APR), the legitimacy of moneylenders and pawnbrokers in the financial system and regulatory enforcement. It identifies three main policy responses: price controls, information disclosure and licensing. By analysing the motivations, debated issues and proposed solutions, this research examines wider questions concerning freedom of contract, borrower rationality, bargaining inequity, market segmentation and credit rationing. It contributes to the scholarly and policy dialogue on price controls, information disclosure and the development of non-bank lending. This research also provides new perspectives on the Victorian poverty debate and the modern financial inclusion agenda as they relate to the interaction between regulation, high-cost credit and poverty.
Supervisor: Needham, Duncan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Consumer Credit ; Non-bank Financial Institutions ; Financial Exclusion ; Payday lending ; Pawnbroking ; Regulation of high-cost credit