Me, interviewing David Graeber
A Conversation with Doug Henwood and David Graeber
August 23, 7:30pm
Melville House Bookstore
145 Plymouth St, Brooklyn
Debt is now the central issue of our time: With the rise of cheap and unsustainable credit, un-repayable mortgages collapsed the world economy in 2008. In Europe, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Iceland and Portugal have pushed the European economy to a perilous point, threatening the Euro. And we’ve just lived through a debt crisis of our own, with congress nearly forcing U.S. default.
We’ll be joined by two guests to discuss the role of debt in the world economy: author and radio show host Doug Henwood, an expert on bubble economics and Wall Street, and anthropologist David Graeber, who has just published a history of debt from ancient Mesopotamia to the present day, Debt: The First 5,000 Years.
Will the conversation be recorded and posted on the site?
He’s based at LSE now, right? Perhaps he’ll also talk a bit about current events in London.
It’s supposed to be recorded by C-SPAN. We’ll see.
I’m based in Goldsmiths, University of London, and I suppose I could speak a little about London but it really depends on the format. Btw, I missed all the fun, being as I’m in New York for the summer.
The description of the talk is nearly every rightwing talking point: “Debt is now the central issue of our time [as opposed to hunger, joblessness, water shortages, global warming, constant war, surveillance, collapsing infrastructure, etc]: With the rise of cheap and unsustainable credit [unsustainable for whom?], un-repayable mortgages collapsed the world economy in 2008. In Europe, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Iceland and Portugal have pushed the European economy to a perilous point [or maybe it was the ECB and banksters in the US, Germany, France, etc], threatening the Euro. And we’ve just lived through a debt crisis of our own, with congress nearly forcing U.S. default [which was never going to happen anyway].”
I noticed that too. The rightwing uses debt and deficit talk to attack government spending and New Deal / Great Society programs. It’s sad to see that even Obama has acquiesced, saying recently that the “government needs to tighten its belt just as regular families do.”
Unfortunately the problem is that consumers are deleveraging which is creating a lack of aggregate demand. So private debt is a problem whereas public debt shouldn’t be. The Bush tax cuts could be allowed to expire for example, but conservatives don’t want that because the deficit is less a priorty for them than low taxes and less government spending.