Slugger O'Toole

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People’s bailout: A social innovation you won’t have heard about before…

Fri 9 November 2012, 4:42pm

Occupy Wall Street. Remember them? Well, in that well worn cliched phrase: They haven’t gone away you know!

One of the more successful actions of the Belfast group was occupying the old Belfast stock exchange on Royal Avenue, thereby flagging up latent resources.

Well, in the US there’s a fascinating little scenario (flagged up on Google Plus by Jeff Jarvis just now) in which OWS, well, here they are in their own words:

OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)

This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need — to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy. As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!

Now, after many consultations with attorneys, the IRS, and our moles in the debt-brokerage world, we are ready to take the Rolling Jubilee program LIVE and NATIONWIDE, buying debt in communities that have been struggling during the recession.

Hey, it’s called messing with the software. Or life hacking. We’ll see how far it gets. But at the very least it shows up a rather unflattering end of the market system.

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Comments (3)

  1. This is not a new concept. It is already operating along similar lines with certain (I would describe as partly philanthropic and partly extremely clever) businesses in the UK. It is about taking advantage of a particular financial institution’s present thirst for liquidity (or quick profit if they have already bought the debt).

    What do you think?
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  2. aquifer (profile) says:

    But it is hard to keep up with capitalism.

    As Universal Credit begins in Britain with monthly payments, new lenders are offering credit at extortionate rates, creating ever more debtors who will pay back multiples of the principal before their debt ends up in the bargain bin.

    And is saving people from bankruptcy a good thing when they may only borrow all over again?

    Payday lenders pay poor people some attention.

    More often than Tory social security.

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  3. Reader (profile) says:

    OWS: As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!
    If the doves enter the market for distressed debt in a big way, won’t that push the price up and make the hawks even more aggressive in chasing payments from their slice?

    What do you think?
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