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Public Debt, Inequality and Power. The Making of a Modern Debt State

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  • Hager, Sandy Brian

Abstract

Who are the dominant owners of US public debt? Is it widely held, or concentrated in the hands of a few? Does ownership of public debt give these bondholders power over our government? What do we make of the fact that foreign-owned debt has ballooned to nearly 50 percent today? Until now, we have not had any satisfactory answers to these questions. Public Debt, Inequality, and Power is the first comprehensive historical analysis of public debt ownership in the United States. It reveals that ownership of federal bonds has been increasingly concentrated in the hands of the 1 percent over the past three decades. Based on extensive and original research, Public Debt, Inequality, and Power will shock and enlighten. “These days, the topic of America’s debt stirs heated political debate. But one of the most important facts in this discussion has hitherto been obscured: who actually owns that debt inside America? Hager has done some fascinating and pathbreaking research to answer that question and concluded that the ownership pattern is surprisingly concentrated—and unequal—and that this may have implications for how the entire debt debate develops in the coming years. This is an illuminating work that deserves wide attention.” (GILLIAN TETT, Financial Times) “The relationship between the ownership structure of government debt and economic inequality—between public finance and the class structure of modern capitalism—is one of several central concerns of political economy that has been almost completely neglected in recent decades. Sandy Brian Hager’s book returns to the subject with theoretical and empirical bravado.” (WOLFGANG STREECK, Director Emeritus, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies) “Money is power, and US Treasury debt is the world’s single largest financial instrument. Hager’s insightful book fills an enormous hole in our knowledge of who owns this debt and how the power flowing from that increasingly concentrated ownership affects US and global politics.” (HERMAN M. SCHWARTZ, author of Subprime Nation: American Power, Global Capital, and the Housing Bubble) *** SANDY BRIAN HAGER is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. He has published in various journals, including New Political Economy and Socio-Economic Review. [This book is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 3.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)]

Suggested Citation

  • Hager, Sandy Brian, 2016. "Public Debt, Inequality and Power. The Making of a Modern Debt State," EconStor Books, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 157976.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:esmono:157976
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Hager, Sandy Brian, 2015. "Corporate Ownership of the Public Debt: Mapping the New Aristocracy of Finance," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 505-523.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Arbogast, Tobias, 2020. "Who are these bond vigilantes anyway? The political economy of sovereign debt ownership in the eurozone," MPIfG Discussion Paper 20/2, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    2. Comín, Francisco & Cuevas, Joaquim, 2017. "The Deadly Embrace Between The Banks And The State In Spain, 1850-2015," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(3), pages 387-414, December.
    3. Hager, Sandy Brian, 2020. "Varieties of Top Incomes," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1175-1198.
    4. Costas Lapavitsas & Ivan Mendieta-Muñoz, 2017. "Financialisation at a Watershed in the USA JEL Classification: B50, E10, E44, G20," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2017_10, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    5. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2017. "Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2017/02, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    6. Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 2018. "The CasP Project: Past, Present, Future," Review of Capital as Power, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism, vol. 1(3), pages 1-39.
    7. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2020. "Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power," Review of Capital as Power, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism, vol. 1(5), pages 1-78.
    8. Di Muzio, Tim & Noble, Leoni, 2017. "The Coming Revolution in Political Economy: Money Creation, Mankiw and Misguided Macroeconomics," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 85-108.

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