For those who questioned whether the outlook for subprime lenders would ever improve, last week’s chorus of complaints about mounting regulatory burdens should erase any doubt.

A wrenching two-year period of consolidation that began in late 1998 was marked by defensive protestations from managements across the sector, each asserting that its company’s business model was best suited to survive the shakeout. Of course, many companies did not survive the downdraft; the lucky ones found buyers and others simply closed up shop. (In cases like Money Store, both occurred.)

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