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Millions of debt collection lawsuits are overwhelming state courts, and almost half are from hospitals and doctor's offices for unpaid medical bills, ProPublica reports.

What's happening: People all over the country are discovering a warrant out for their arrest after unknowingly missing a court date. Even if they are able to pay the debt, bail is posted instead.

Debtors' prisons are illegal in the U.S., but judges and lawyers have found a workaround: If people with unpaid bills are no-shows in court when summoned, they can be jailed for contempt.

Most of the people tried through this process didn't pay their bills because they just don't have the money, ProPublica found.

In many courtrooms, several legal questions still loom regarding the bail money and how hospitals lobby for what is owed:

"If the judge is upholding the rule of law, he would give the bail money back to you when you appear in court. Instead, he is using his power to take money from you and hand it to the debt collector. It raises constitutional questions.”
— Peter Holland, former director of the Consumer Protection Clinic at the University of Maryland Law School, tells ProPublica

Go deeper: At hospital nonprofits, lawsuits frequently target former patients

Go deeper

Trading platforms curb trading on high-flying Reddit stocks

Major trading platforms including Robinhood, TDAmeritrade and Interactive Brokers are restricting — or cutting off entirely — trading on high-flying stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment.

Why it matters: It limits access to the traders that have contributed to the wild Reddit-driven activity of the past few days — a phenomenon that has gripped Wall Street and the country.

Updated 59 mins ago - Economy & Business

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.