APM's "Marketplace" interviews Louis Hyman on debtHistorians in the News
Kai Ryssdal: ... Debt is, in fact, and has been, an American way of life.
Louis Hyman: Thanks so much for having me on the show.
Ryssdal: So you know, people have been borrowing and lending since basically there were paper, right? I mean it's been thousands and thousands of years. What, though, is different about the way we do it? The way Americans do it?
Hyman: Yes, it's one of those rare things in history where it actually has been done since the dawn of time, as so many undergrad essays say. What's different about debt in the 20th century is that it's profitable. So if you look at debt in the 19th century, it was either unprofitable or it was illegal. So you have instances like the Singer Sewing machine company, which would sell things on the installment plan. But those plans always lost money for the company. They made up those losses by selling sewing machines. On the other end, you have loan sharks. Loan sharks charge exorbitant rates, but they of course were illegal. In the 20th century you see the emergence of profitable, legal lending. And that's what the story of "Borrow" is all about -- how that changed our culture and changed the way we live....
comments powered by Disqus
- Family shines light on American POW killed by Hiroshima blast
- In Hiroshima 71 years after first atomic strike, Obama calls for end of nuclear weapons
- Artist Corrects Inaccuracies At The George W. Bush Library With Augmented Reality
- “Unprecedented” discovery of mysterious structures created by Neanderthals
- This Man Spent 25 Years Documenting Every Day of Hitler's Life
- Bernard Lewis Turns 100
- David Lowenthal, author of "The Past Is a Foreign Country,” says it’s folly to scratch the names of slaveholders off buildings
- Jean Edward Smith, biographer of FDR and Ike, has a new biography coming out … of George W. Bush
- Flora Fraser, biographer of George and Martha Washington, wins $50,000 George Washington Prize
- Michael Cohen explains why he calls his book on 1968 “American Malestrom"