Book Launch

Book Launch | The Unbanking of America

03/27 Monday | 6pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join us for the book launch of Lisa Servon’s The Unbanking of America. The author will be in discussion with Tamara Draut and Jonathan Morduch.

What do an undocumented immigrant in the South Bronx, a high-net-worth entrepreneur, and a twenty-something graduate student have in common? All three are victims of our dysfunctional mainstream bank and credit system. In The Unbanking of America, Lisa Servon exposes the ways in which banks have quietly abandoned lower and middle-class consumers in favor of servicing only the wealthiest. Today, nearly half of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck, as income volatility has doubled over the past thirty years. Banks, with their monthly fees and high overdraft charges, take advantage of these fluctuations rather than help their customers manage them.

The author will discuss her provocative dispatches from inside a range of banking alternatives as new players rush in to do what banks once did. After working as a teller at RiteCheck, a check-cashing business in the South Bronx, and as a payday lender in Oakland, California, listening to the stories of the alternatives bankers as well as their consumers, she delivers hopeful portraits of the entrepreneurs who are counting on a permanent “unbanking” of America.


Lisa Servon is Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. A former dean at the New School, she is the author of Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology, Community, and Public Policy and Gender Planning, among other books. She has contributed to several publications, including the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the Wall Street Journal.

Tamara Draut is Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos, where she has developed the organization’s work on household indebtedness, middle-class insecurity, and the economic challenges facing young people. She is the author of several books, including Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead and Sleeping Giant: How America’s New Working Class Will Transform America. Her research has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines and she has appeared on The Colbert Report, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

Jonathan Morduch is Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Executive Director of the Financial Access Initiative there. His research focuses on finance and inequality with a current emphasis on the financial lives of low-income families, and on the economics of markets and social action. His latest book, The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty (with Rachel Schneider) is due out in April.

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