Human Worth as Collateral


Human worth has taken on a surprising new role: that of market asset. Specifically, lenders in radically different contexts are using their borrowers’ human worth as collateral in loan transactions. The two examples of this new collateralization that I examine are credit card lending in the United States and microlending programs in the Third World. I conclude that the use of human worth in these two contexts is too similar to be coincidental. Rather, this new collateralization is a product of globalization. For those interested in the effect of law on globalization, this convergence in the market for credit teaches important lessons. In both the contexts I examine, the laws governing secured and unsecured lending fail to recognize human worth as collateral. For this reason, the new collateralization serves as a counter-example to the claimed centrality of the rule of law in economic development.


Banking and Finance Law | Consumer Protection Law | Property Law and Real Estate | Secured Transactions

Date of this Version

August 2006