Historical Perspectives

David Graeber’s Debt, The First 5000 Years

06/18/20

I’m just getting around to reading a 2014 book some Creditslips readers may be familiar with, Debt: The First 5000 Years. In this utterly fascinating work, Anthropologist David Graeber exhaustively recounts the history of debt and money. He begins by debunking the myth of barter, the story told in introductory economics textbooks that money was spontaneously invented to permit merchants to exchange goods and services in imaginary markets, as an improvement over primitive market economies based on barter.

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The Great American Housing Bubble

06/07/20

My new book, The Great American Housing Bubble:  What Went Wrong and How We Can Protect Ourselves in the Future is being released on Tuesday by Harvard University Press. The book is co-authored with my long-time collaborator, Wharton real estate economist Susan Wachter.

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American Predatory Lending and the North Carolina model

05/22/20

My coauthor Ed Balleisen has co-founded a program on consumer lending of interest to Credit Slips readers. Its initial data collection is particularly useful in documenting the North Carolina experience and its implications for other states.

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The Myth of Optimal Expectation Damages

04/10/20

Roughly eighty years ago, Lon Fuller and William Perdue (the former, then a faculty member at Duke Law, and the latter, a 3L), wrote two of the most famous articles in contract law (here). One of the puzzles they posed -- about why the law favors the expectation damages measure -- resulted in an entire body of scholarship, including the theory of efficient breach.

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Boer Bonds and the Doctrine of War Debts

03/26/20

Concentrating on just about anything during these days of the coronavirus, let alone academic writing, has been a trifle difficult these.  A splendid new paper on Boer Bonds by Kim Oosterlinck and Marie Van Gansbeke (here) did, however, get me focused (for a bit).  And that’s in part because their paper has potentially turned upside down what I thought was an established part of customary international law.  That is, the law of

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Federal Reserve Emergency Lending as a Coronavirus Response

03/01/20

Senator Elizabeth Warren has put out a plan for mitigating the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

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The Emperor's Old Bonds

02/25/20

Inspired by Tracy Alloway's recent piece on antique Chinese bonds (here), a group of my students has gone deep down the rabbit hole of the question of how one might recover on them (or, from the Chinese government’s perspective, how one would block recovery).  If I’m reading Michael, Charlie and Andres correctly, they think that the probability of recovery via litigation is near zero on almost all of the antique Chinese bond

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216 Jamaica Avenue and the Prospect of Breathing Life Into Antique Chinese Bonds

02/09/20

One of the more fun discussions we have had in my international debt class this term has been the question of whether a clever plaintiff's lawyer might be able to breathe life into defaulted Chinese bonds from the period 1911-1948. (Our thanks to Tracy Alloway's delightful piece in Bloomberg on this matter (here)).

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Daniel Schwarcz on the Evolution of Insurance Contracts

02/07/20

I shudder even as I write these words, but I’m increasingly fascinated by insurance contracts.  If you are interested in the processes by which standard form contracts evolve – which I am -- then you can’t help but be sucked into this world. Coming from the world of sovereign bonds, the insurance world strikes as bizarre.

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Buybacks as a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Strategy: Why the Disfavor?

01/19/20

The ideas in this post are drawn from work with Stephen Choi.  Errors are mine.

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