Saturday, April 5, 2008

Strange Pejorative

A New York Times article about microlenders in Mexico begins with a story about a successful microlending company called Compartamos:

But not all of their colleagues in the world of microlending — so named for the tiny loans it grants — are heaping praise on the co-executives of Compartamos. Some are vilifying them as “pawnbrokers” and “money lenders.”
Is "money lender" a pejorative phrase nowadays? Banks are in the business of lending money, are they not? That seems like a strange -- and not terribly effective -- insult.