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The American Way of Debt

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eBook published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
In this lively history of consumer debt in America, economic historian Louis Hyman demonstrates that today’s problems are not as new as we think.
 
Borrow examines how the rise of consumer borrowing—virtually unknown before the twentieth century—has altered our culture and economy. Starting in the years before the Great Depression, increased access to money raised living standards but also introduced unforeseen risks. As lending grew more and more profitable, it displaced funds available for business borrowing, setting our economy on an unsustainable course. Told through the vivid stories of individuals and institutions affected by these changes, Borrow charts the collision of commerce and culture in twentieth-century America, giving an historical perspective on what is new—and what is not—in today’s economic turmoil.

A Paperback Original
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In this lively history of consumer debt in America, economic historian Louis Hyman demonstrates that today’s problems are not as new as we think.
 
Borrow examines how the rise of consumer borrowing—virtually unknown before the twentieth century—has altered our culture and economy. Starting in the years before the Great Depression, increased access to money raised living standards but also introduced unforeseen risks. As lending grew more and more profitable, it displaced funds available for business borrowing, setting our economy on an unsustainable course. Told through the vivid stories of individuals and institutions affected by these changes, Borrow charts the collision of commerce and culture in twentieth-century America, giving an historical perspective on what is new—and what is not—in today’s economic turmoil.

A Paperback Original
Product Details
eBook (200 pages)
Published: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307744906
Other books byLouis Hyman
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    From the vantage point of the United States or Western Europe, the 1970s was a time of troubles: economic "stagflation," political scandal, and global turmoil. Yet from an international perspective it was a seminal decade, one that brought the reintegration of the world after the great divisions of the mid-twentieth century. It was the 1970s that introduced the world to the phenomenon of "globalization," as networks of interdependence bound peoples and societies in new and original ways. The 1970s saw the breakdown of the postwar economic order and the advent of floating currencies and free capital movements. Non-state actors rose to prominence while the authority of the superpowers diminished. Transnational issues such as environmental protection, population control, and human rights attracted unprecedented attention. The decade transformed international politics, ending the era of bipolarity and launching two great revolutions that would have repercussions in the twenty-first century: the Iranian theocratic revolution and the Chinese market revolution. The Shock of the Global examines the large-scale structural upheaval of the 1970s by transcending the standard frameworks of national borders and superpower relations. It reveals for the first time an international system in the throes of enduring transformations.

    Debtor Nation

    Debtor Nation
    The History of America in Red Ink
    Before the twentieth century, personal debt resided on the fringes of the American economy, the province of small-time criminals and struggling merchants. By the end of the century, however, the most profitable corporations and banks in the country lent money to millions of American debtors. How did this happen? The first book to follow the history of personal debt in modern America, Debtor Nation traces the evolution of debt over the course of the twentieth century, following its transformation from fringe to mainstream--thanks to federal policy, financial innovation, and retail competition. How did banks begin making personal loans to consumers during the Great Depression? Why did the government invent mortgage-backed securities? Why was all consumer credit, not just mortgages, tax deductible until 1986? Who invented the credit card? Examining the intersection of government and business in everyday life, Louis Hyman takes the reader behind the scenes of the institutions that made modern lending possible: the halls of Congress, the boardrooms of multinationals, and the back rooms of loan sharks. America's newfound indebtedness resulted not from a culture in decline, but from changes in the larger structure of American capitalism that were created, in part, by the choices of the powerful--choices that made lending money to facilitate consumption more profitable than lending to invest in expanded production. From the origins of car financing to the creation of subprime lending, Debtor Nation presents a nuanced history of consumer credit practices in the United States and shows how little loans became big business.

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