An intensive introduction to finance as crisis and to the relations of debt that have produced immense wealth and poverty worldwide over the past four decades.

42 people own as much wealth as the poorest 3.7 billion, i.e. almost half the world’s population. The disparity is only growing. Reports suggest that the top 1% will hold 64% of the world’s wealth by 2030. Where has the wealth of these 42 people come from? What is the connection between their skyrocketing profits and the falling wealth of the rest of the world? In this course, we look to the financial system for answers. Debt, credit and finance have inundated our everyday lives and become the motor not only of “economic growth” but also the growth of inequality. This is not an economic revolution powered by the steam engine or by oil but by debt instruments. However, for a revolution it has taken place rather stealthily, without widespread public debate or even consideration, shrouded in technical jargon and expert authority. This course, designed for the critical non-economist, aims to break the monopoly of “experts” on discussions about finance, a task that has become increasingly urgent to exercise informed democratic citizenship.

Drawing from heterodox economics, history, anthropology, sociology and development studies, the course will ask: what is the relationship between profit, production, debt, and poverty? Where has the financial crisis of 2008 gone; has it ended? Was it really caused by bad loans and greedy bankers? What about student loans, credit card debt, automobile debt, and sovereign debt — are these financial relationships crisis-free? More broadly we will ask: how has the significance of debt changed in the past five decades? Does debt have anything to do with racial, gendered, and colonial inequalities across the world? What should we make of schemes to lend money to the poorest, called ‘subprime’ in some places and ‘microfinance’ in others? And finally, what can be done about this system of permanent crisis? Can it ever be otherwise? What alternatives are imaginable, and what imaginations realizable?

This course is free and open to the public. All are welcome!

Mini-Course by Aparna Gopalan.

More Information:

Dates: Jan 14-24 (M/Th), 12:00 — 3:00 p.m.

Location: CGIS Knafel Building — K107

Sign up: Here.