Must Read Money Stories Wednesday, Oct. 22

by October 22, 2014

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Low credit? You’ll pay more. The New York Times reports this morning that several states have recently passed laws allowing higher interest rates and fees on customers with low credit scores. The states include Missouri, Kentucky, Arizona, Indiana, Florida and North Carolina. In North Carolina, higher fees and rates were initially opposed by an unlikely political group: commanders at the Fort Bragg military base, who feared that out of control debt could affect their soldiers’ security clearances. But, after a sustained lobbying push, the higher borrowing costs were approved in the state. Who’s lobbying where you live?

Would you like kale with that Big Mac? McDonald’s reported quarterly earnings yesterday, and the news was not spectacular. Profits dropped 30 percent, and sales were down in Asia, Europe and the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that McDonald’s executives are considering some big changes to turn things around, including fresher, locally sourced ingredients, and, yes, even more organic options on the menu.

Forced labor in the U.S. looks at a problem that’s invisible to most Americans: Thousands of immigrants are lured to this country with the promise of a job, then forced to continue working against their will, or face deportation. Vox reports that no one knows exactly how big this problem is, but a new report from the Urban Institute sheds some light. Among the report’s findings: More than 70 percent of those trapped in forced labor arrangements actually have work visas. Those visas work as both the carrot and the stick, used by traffickers to threaten the workers if they ever complain about their work conditions, or try to leave for another job.

Tesla rebuffed in Michigan Tesla wants to be able to sell its cars directly to consumers. But that’s not the way car sales work now. Now, car companies don’t open their own stores. They sell their cars to dealership franchises. Yesterday, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed a law meant to protect that practice and to make Tesla’s direct-selling approach illegal in the state. Tesla has gotten around this ban in other states by opening “galleries,” which are basically stores where you can’t buy anything. But it seems from Michigan’s law, even those won’t be allowed. To see where Tesla does operate stores (or “galleries”), you can go here.