In the beginning was debt. In David Graeber’s sprawling epic on the history of money, he charts its shape-shifting from credit to coinage, to credit again, then bullion and finally to virtual currencies. Throughout, debt is the constant and Graeber makes a ferocious case that it is the lens through which economics might be better defined.
Debt has recently been re-issued, ten years after its original publication in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. That event prompted much soul searching about money and a raft of books purporting to explain how we got into such a mess. Most were…
$100 billion: That’s the amount that U.S. credit card debt fell from February to June. Yes, you read that right: In the throes of a pandemic-fueled economic collapse that has left around 30 million Americans unemployed and GDP down 9.5% in Q2, U.S. credit card holders have, in the aggregate, paid down their debts. Obviously, the experts expected the opposite — that massive unemployment would lead to a spike in living off plastic. But according to Wall Street Journal analysis, government stimulus checks and additional unemployment benefits have provided an effective cushion for many.
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