Salespeople said they were told to refer to “short-term capital” instead of loans and “money factors” instead of interest rates. Eight of them said they talked business owners into applying by saying they’d offer a good rate after reviewing bank statements.
World Business Lenders charged most people 125 percent annualized interest rates on six-month loans regardless of their situation, five former employees said. The borrowers often put up cars, houses or even livestock worth at least twice as much as the loan. About one in five were going bust as of last year, two people with knowledge of the matter said. One said that 9 percent of the loans made this year have already defaulted.
“The sweet spot is someone who can limp along well enough for six months but probably isn’t going to be around much longer,” Opportunity Finance Network’s Pinsky said. “They’re in the business of helping these businesses fail.”
– From yesterday’s Bloomberg article, Wall Street Finds New Subprime With 125% Business Loans
The following story represents one of the most mind-bogglingly disturbing reflections of what is really happening beneath the lipstick pigged representation of the U.S. economy the mainstream media regularly portrays. At the center of the story is a company called World Business Lenders LLC, which is staffed with veterans of Jordan Belfort’s (the Wolf of Wall Street) boiler room firm as well other former brokers banned from the securities industry. It sports a business model that lends money at 125% annualized interest rates to small businesses.
Oh, but the story gets better, a lot better. Large Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and corporations such as Google are also naturally getting into the market. For example:
OnDeck Capital Inc., a lender with funding from Google’s venture-capital arm and PayPal Inc. co-founder Peter Thiel, sold $175 million of notes backed by business debt last month in a deal put together by Deutsche Bank. Interest rates on the loans ranged from 29 percent to 134 percent.
“Don’t be evil,” right Google? Since there’s nothing evil about 134% interest rates, particularly when you don’t pay taxes.
Of course, predatory lending by bailed out financial institutions is nothing new in post-financial crisis America. I covered this last year in my post: TBTF Banks Enter Payday Loan Business with 500% Interest Rates.
Naturally, Wall Street is also starting to package the loans into securities that can be sold to investors. You can’t make this stuff up.
From an office near New York’s Times Square, people trained by a veteran of Jordan Belfort’s boiler room call truckers, contractors and florists across the country pitching loans with annual interest rates as high as 125 percent, according to more than two dozen former employees and clients. When borrowers can’t pay, Naidus’s World Business Lenders LLC seizes their vehicles and assets, sometimes sending them into bankruptcy.
Naidus isn’t the only one turning to subprime business lending. Mortgage brokers and former stock salesmen looking for new ways to make fast profits are pushing the loans, which aren’t covered by federal consumer safeguards. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Google Inc. are among those financing his competitors, which charge similar rates.
“This is the new predatory lending,” said Mark Pinsky, president of Opportunity Finance Network, a group of lenders that help the poor. “And the predators, just as they did in the mortgage market, have gotten increasingly aggressive.”
Subprime business lending — the industry prefers to be called “alternative” — has swelled to more than $3 billion a year, estimates Marc Glazer, who has researched his competitors as head of Business Financial Services Inc., a lender in Coral Springs, Florida. That’s twice the volume of small loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.
Wall Street banks are helping the industry expand by lending originators money. They’re starting to package the loans into securities that can be sold to investors, just as they did for subprime-mortgage lenders.
Of course they are.