BUY NOW, PAY LATER by Hillel Black
Kirkus Star


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Supported by a vast and unfailingly impressive amount of research this book is an examination of the uses and abuses of ""credit"" in the U.S. today. The book abounds in startling statistics, for example: about 100 million Americans are participating in what the author calls the buy now, pay later ""binge""; and, at the beginning of 1960, 400 million dollars was charged through Diners Club, Carte Blanche and American Express alone. Black's thesis presents a paradox: whereas the widespread use of credit has unquestionably raised the standard of living, at the same time the consumer who buys on credit is often being deceived, sometimes outrageously swindled; and of course the general acceptance of unlimited credit buying has profound ethical implications. The author describes a number of credit phenomena in detail: the fantastic credit card industry; the operation of the vast and efficient Associated Credit Bureaus of America -- which maintains an imposing file on credit risks; the revolving credit plans in department stores, banks and small loan companies; the exploitation of the consumer in auto sales; the practices of credit gougers; the ingenious breed of people who hunt down debtors. Black describes the emergence of a ""new kind of entrepreneur"" -- the ""debt merchant"" and this brings up his main complaint: the way credit is sold -- presumably as savings. For the ""debt merchant"" profit from the sale of goods is incidental compared to his outrageous profit from the finance charges. Black offers a few suggestions: a Federal credit labeling bill, prohibiting car manufacturers from financing autos and finally a suggestion that is obviously sensible but not much help -- ""whenever you can afford it, pay cash"". Buy Now, Pay Later is a sobering book and ought to be general required reading.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1961
Publisher: Morrow