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

Presenter: 
Scott Reynolds Nelson
Duration: 
(01:02:01)

On November 8, 2012, Scott Reynolds Nelson delivered a Banner Lecture entitled "A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters." Pundits will argue that the 2008 financial crisis was the first crash in American history driven by consumer debt. But Scott Nelson demonstrates in his new book, A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters, that consumer debt has underpinned almost every major financial panic in the nation’s history. 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. Scott Reynolds Nelson is the Leslie and Naomi Legum Professor of History at the College of William and Mary.(Introduction by Paul Levengood)