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Nation of Deadbeats : An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters

ISBN: 9780307272690 | 0307272699
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Knopf
Pub. Date: 9/4/2012

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A lively, comprehensive history of financial crashes in American history-and a concise explanation of the little-understood principles that caused them all. Pundits will argue that the 2008 financial crisis was the first crash in American history driven by consumer debt. But in this spirited, highly engaging account, Scott Reynolds Nelson demonstrates that consumer debt has underpinned almost every major financial panic in the nation's history. From William Duer's attempts to profit off the country's post-Revolutionary War debt to an 1815 plan to sell English coats to Americans on credit, to the debt-fueled railroad expansion that precipitated the 1857 crash: in each case, the chain of banks, brokers, moneylenders, and insurance companies that separated borrowers and lenders made it impossible to distinguish good loans from bad. Bound up in this history are stories of national banks funded by smugglers, fistfights in Congress over the gold standard, America's early dependence on British bankers, and how presidential campaigns were forged in controversies over private debt. An irreverent, wholly accessible, eye-opening book.


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