It's easy to find fault with payday lenders.
For many American households still struggling to repair the financial devastation left behind by a wave of abusive mortgage lending that collapsed the global financial system, companies charging triple-digit annual interest rates for short-term loans are an easy target.
Tougher government regulations on them, though, likely will do little to help their regular customers.
Federal regulators Thursday announced a sweeping clampdown on a cottage industry of companies that extend short-term, high-interest loans to borrowers with nowhere else to turn for the next monthly rent check or car payment.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by Congress in response to the mortgage lending abuses of the early 2000s, said Thursday that vulnerable borrowers need to be shielded from predatory practices that create "debt traps" for millions of households living from one inadequate paycheck to the next.
"Too many borrowers seeking a short-term cash fix are saddled with loans they cannot afford and sink into long-term debt," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a prepared statement.
Still, whether or not the rules are enacted, American households at the lowest rung of the income ladder will continue to struggle to make ends meet until wages begin growing more in line with the rest of the workforce.
Even as the U.S. economy has recovered from the Great Recession, the benefits in wage gains have been skewed heavily toward those at the top.
Since 2000, weekly wages have fallen by 3.7 percent, adjusted for inflation, for workers in the bottom 10 percent, and by 3 percent among the lowest quarter, according to the Pew Research Center. For those near the top, real wages have risen by 9.7 percent.