The student debt boom (cont.)

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is out with it latest household debt report, covering the first quarter of 2015. Its parent in DC, the Federal Reserve Board, publishes lots of similar data, but the New York Fed is the first source to publish rigorous numbers on student debt. The latest report is here; you can get the numbers behind it here. Since the official end of the Great Recession in June 2009, households have been borrowing very cautiously (how much it’s their decision, their lenders’ decision, or a combination of the… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archives: March 13, 2014 Andrew Ross, author of Creditocracy, on debt and resistance • Evelyn McDonnell, author of Queens of Noise, on The Runaways March 6, 2014 Greg Grandin, author of Empire of Necessity, on the real history behind Melville’s Benito Cereno • Melissa Gira Grant, author of Playing the Whore, on sex work as work

Situating finance

I’ve long been bothered by activists’ habit of focusing on debt both as a political target and analytical center. This came to the fore during the Occupy moment, and continues today in, well, should we call it the post-Occupy era? Yes, debt is a problem, no doubt about it. Given the age of many Occupy activists, student debt is understandably very much on their minds (as are crappy job prospects, which don’t always get as much attention). Before that, mortgage debt and exotic variations on it were major contributors to the financial… Read More

Deficit emergency over

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest debt and deficit projections for the next ten years are out and there’s no way any honest analyst could read them as anything but the official end to any rational concern about red ink. Of course, given that the phantasmic plays such a large role in politics, it’s likely that important people will still worry about fiscal ruin. But to the degree that reality exerts even a weak gravitational pull on discourse, it should be harder to generate the sense of emergency that austerians thrive on. From the… Read More

Me & Graeber on the TV this weekend

A reminder: my chat with David Graeber about his new book, Book TV this weekend: Saturday, September 3rd at 12pm (ET) Saturday, September 3rd at 7pm (ET) Monday, September 5th at 7am (ET)

Graeber & me on the TV

My interview of/conversation with David Graeber about his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years will be on C-SPAN 2’s BookTV on Saturday, September 3 at noon and 7 PM and again on Monday, September 5, at 7 AM. Here’s the C-SPAN page: Debt: The First 5,000 Years – Book TV.

New radio product

Freshly posted to my Radio archives: August 13, 2011 Dacher Keltner of UC–Berkeley on the psychology of class and social interactions • David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years, provides an anthropologist’s POV on money and debt July 30, 2011 Joel Schalit on Brevik, the European right, its attitude towards Israel, and Israel’s own right • Brad DeLong on the political economy of austerity The audio files are often posted far more promptly than I update the web page, so if you’re into timeliness, subscribe to the podcast!

The CBO’s deep, unappreciated gloom

In this article from LBO #128 (yes, it’s posted quickly to the web, but that doesn’t happen often, so you really should subscribe if you don’t), I talk about the lust that some people—within Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, and the world of punditry—have for getting the federal deficit down. Contrary to this I argued that this is really the wrong time to start thinking about that—we still need the short-term kick of deficit spending to help get the economy off the mat, and then over the longer term we need to… Read More

Silver lining

In the course of a pretty wonky piece on CDOs, Felix Salmon points out that the modern financial environment weakens the political position of creditors. Back in 1975, when New York City was on the verge of default, its bonds were uninsured, and held mostly by the city’s rich and its biggest banks. Both sets of bondholders were relatively few in number and invested in the city’s long-term survival. The creditors were able to come together and speak with one voice to force wage cuts and layoffs on the unions and service cuts… Read More