Tony's Reviews > Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal

Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal by Andrew Ross
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did not like it
bookshelves: 2014, money-money-money, reviewed, non-fiction

I'm very confused as to who the expected audience for this book is meant to be. It's been described as a “movement book”, that is “lucid and accessible”, but it's the densest book I've read in quite some time. (HemingwayApp gives the first chapter's reading level as Grade 18, with 55% of sentences at post-college-level “Very Hard to Read”, and a further 20% at college-level “Hard to Read”. The remaining 25% of ‘simple’ sentences are either quotes, or tend towards “This reshuffling of the merits attached to citizenly conduct is quite telling” or “The first structural adjustment loan was made shortly after Volcker’s monetary shock therapy.”)

The book claims to be “a work of moral commentary and political advocacy, not academic analysis”, but unless it's trying merely to persuade his fellow university professors, I'm far from convinced it'll make much of a dent at all.
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Reading Progress

February 12, 2014 – Started Reading
February 13, 2014 – Finished Reading
February 14, 2014 – Shelved
February 14, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014
February 14, 2014 – Shelved as: money-money-money
September 9, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed
December 29, 2014 – Shelved as: non-fiction

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by David (new) - added it

David i'll gladly take the copy off your hands

Matthew I am only a chapter or two into this book, but I haven't found it dense at all. And in fact, when I found out that Ross was a PhD with about a dozen books under his belt, I was surprised with how accessible he's made the text. No psychoanalytic mumbo jumbo or super technical finance language so far.

message 3: by Tony (new) - rated it 1 star

Tony It's definitely not a technical book — you certainly don't need much in the way of pre-existing knowledge of financial theory, or the like. But it's certainly not light reading. This section from the introduction is fairly typical:

Owning lawmakers may be a venerable prerogative for American financiers, but the rise of a full-blown creditocracy is more recent. Financialization had to creep into every corner of the household economy before the authority of the creditor class took on a sovereign, unassailable character.

In other words, it is not enough for every social good to be turned into a transactional commodity, as is the case in a rampant market civilization. A creditocracy emerges when the cost of each of these goods, no matter how staple, has to be debt-financed, and when indebtedness becomes the precondition not just for material improvements in the quality of life, but for the basic requirements of life. Financiers seek to wrap debt around every possible asset and income stream, ensuring a flow of interest from each. Furthermore, when fresh sources of credit are routinely needed to service existing debt (neatly captured in the 1990s bumper sticker, “I Use MasterCard to Pay Visa”), we can be sure we are entering a more advanced phase of creditor rule. For the working poor, this kind of compulsory indebtedness is a very familiar arrangement, and has long outlived its classic expression under feudalism, indenture, and slavery. Each of these systems of debt bondage were followed by kindred successors—sharecropping, company scrip, loan sharking—and their legacy is alive and well today on the subprime landscape of fringe finance, where “poverty banks” operate in every other storefront on Loan Alley. But the bonds created by household debt have also spread upwards and now affect the majority of the population, tethering two generations of the college educated. With total U.S. consumer debt at a whopping $11.13 trillion (U.S. GDP in 2012 was $15.68 trillion), 77 percent of households are in serious debt, and one in seven Americans is being, or has been, pursued by a debt collector. As for the beneficiaries, the tipping point for a creditocracy occurs when “economic rents”—from debt-leveraging, capital gains, manipulation of paper claims through derivatives, and other forms of financial engineering—are no longer merely a supplementary source of income, but have become the most reliable and effective instrument for the amassing of wealth and influence.

There's nothing massively difficult to understand, but it's somewhat of a slog to get there.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, the writting is more difficult than average read.
No, you don't need Hemingway to see that.
No, it doesn't seem to impact the ideas given in this book.
So let's focus on what he says rather than on how he says it.

message 5: by Tony (new) - rated it 1 star

Tony Kulturozpyt: the point of this review is not to engage with the issues raised in the book — it's simply to warn people that the book may be significantly more difficult than the publisher's advertising makes it out to be.

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