In recent online focus groups, Federal Reserve researchers presented 44 small-business owners with basic information about a loan and asked them to estimate the interest rate. The business owners' responses were telling.

The hypothetical loan, which was meant to mimic some of the products offered to small businesses online, is for $40,000. The borrower owes $52,000. The lender gets repaid by taking 10% of the borrower's daily debit card and credit card sales. The loan is paid off in one year.

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