New York Times, The Atlantic and Local Media Seek Professor Nathalie Martin's Expertise

February 6, 2015 - Tamara Williams

Professor Nathalie Martin

UNM School of Law Prof. Nathalie Martin, whose research focuses on high-cost loans, is being quoted and interviewed in the news media ranging from the New York Times and the Atlantic to the Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe Public Radio and KOAT Channel 7.

New York Times article refers to Martin’s blog

In the NY Times article, “A New Mortgage Trap” author Teresa Tritch credits Martin with laying out the details of a shift in mortgage banking from having borrowers sign mortgages when they take out home loans to having them sign deeds of trust. Tritch refers to Martin’s blog at Credit Slips, the nation's leading blog on debt and credit issues:

According to Professor Martin’s blog, the use of trust deeds instead of mortgages was first spotted by Karen Myers, the head of the Consumer Protection Division of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. When Ms. Myers investigated the new practice further, she found it had become widespread.

Lenders in New Mexico have insisted that using deeds of trust instead of mortgages will not affect borrowers’ rights in foreclosure, but the attorney general’s office in New Mexico disagrees. It has told 11 lenders in writing to stop marketing their wares as mortgages when they are actually deeds in trust. The letter calls the shift an attempt “to modify and abrogate the protections afforded a homeowner” by the courts and state consumer protection law.

Attorneys general around the country should now follow up with their own investigations.

The Atlantic article shows how cities benefit from the leniency of U.S. bankruptcy code

In The Atlantic article, “The Surprising Ways Bankrupt Cities Make Money” Adrian Shirk highlights how the Detroit Institute of Art helped the Motor City keep its “beloved collection – which was otherwise going to be auctioned off, piece-meal, in the fallout of the city’s 2013 bankruptcy.” He profiles six other U.S. cities or counties and the “colorful” way they approached bankruptcy.

In an overview of the history of the leniency of the U.S. bankruptcy code, Shirk quotes Martin: “In fact, according to Nathalie Martin, professor of law at University of New Mexico, it was our approach to bankruptcy that was chiefly responsible for allowing the U.S. to compete with other highly-developed European economies in the decades following the American Revolution.”

ABQ Journal article outlines long legal road for capping interest rates

Mike Bush, staff writer for the Albuquerque Journal interviewed Martin for his article, “New Mexico urged to limit ‘payday’ loan rates.” He outlines a number of developments leading to the legislature pushing for a cap of 36 percent on interest rates and notes that last summer, the New Mexico Supreme Court, citing studies by Martin, held that “signature” loans with interest rates of 1,000 percent or higher were “unconscionable.”

Bush profiles Martin’s participation in the UNM Law School’s Clinical Education Program, “where she first came into contact with those she calls ‘real-life clients,’ people who had fallen into the trap of payday loans” and the five studies she conducted relating to high-cost lending practices.

Santa Fe Public Radio interviews Martin on payday loans

Dave Marash of KSFR, Santa Fe Public Radio, interviews Martin on “Here and There.” In the 49-minute segment, Marash asks Martin to highlight her studies of New Mexico cases of annual interest rates above 1000 percent.

Martin shares her research on high-cost loans and reviews the differences and dangers of payday, installment, and title loans. She highlights the problem that these lenders are from out of state and that the profits from the loans are pulled out of New Mexico.

Martin shares that she is a passionate advocate for financial literacy and for educating members of the community about managing their finances. As a member of the board of Prosperity Works, she helps the organization in its mission of powering social and economic prosperity for the state. At the law school, Martin and her students are helping educate immigrant families, a population that loan sharks have been targeting, about the dangers of high-cost loans.

With funding from a grant, Martin has created the Financial Literacy Program at the law school, dedicated to providing financial education to young people in our community. The program sends law school students to high schools to teach them about financial literacy, including budgeting, investing and borrowing, as well as broader topics related to today’s economy.

Currently Martin is encouraging the public to contact their legislators and advocate for three bills before the New Mexico legislature this month. All three bills have caps on interest rates over 36 percent with no loopholes. Martin indicates that the caps are not a partisan issue and that “everybody wants this legislation” to stop the lenders who are preying on the state’s most desperate citizens. She says, “This is a complicated issue,” and adds, “We can do something about it!”

KOAT TV reports on rates hovering between 500 to 1000 percent

KOAT Channel 7 reporter Laura Thoren interviewed Martin after the holidays for “Predatory lending: Lawmakers eye interest rate cap: Experts warn against post-holiday predatory lending.” Below is an excerpt of the story.

After Black Friday spending, holiday shopping and a few last minute Christmas gifts, many New Mexicans are feeling pain in their pockets.

“There isn't any doubt this time of year is more expensive -- more expensive for all of us,” said University of New Mexico Law Professor Nathalie Martin, who teaches about predatory lending.

She warns that if you're looking for fast cash, do not go to any local lending storefront.

“It's easy to get a loan, because there's no underwriting - meaning they don't check your credit -- and people think that's wonderful. The problem is paying it back. Rates hover between 500 percent to 1,000 percent at many lenders,” Martin said.

That means a $500 could end up costing over $2,500.

“When are the rates are this high, it does trap people,” Martin said.

She advises people who are strapped for cash to apply for a credit card with a lower interest rate. Another option is to head to a credit union for a short term loan.

New Mexico's loan landscape could be changing in coming months, however. Lawmakers in Santa Fe are considering a bill that will cap interest rates at 36 percent or less.