Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mike Beggs — Debt: The First 500 Pages


Mike Beggs reads David Graeber's Debt and finds it wanting.

Jacobin
Debt: The First 500 Pages
Mike Beggs | Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney
(h/t widmerpool in the comments)

6 comments:

Roger Erickson said...

Not surprising. A banker reads an anthropology text, and finds things not to like.

Maybe have all economics texts reviewed by anthropologists (or any other profession, before passing judgement as fully warranted?

Data is meaningless w/o context, and reviews are - by definition - relevant only to a specific audience.

Dan Kervick said...

I think that's a very good review, and identifies several of the things I find wanting in Graeber.

Beggs focuses a lot on the deficiencies in Graeber's monetary theories, and I suppose Graeber invites that himself by linking the phenomenon of debt so closely with the phenomenon of money.

But to me the greatest deficiency in Graeber is his relative neglect of law and its history - both positive law and common law: everything pertaining to the more or less established rules by which societies organize and regulate themselves. As I see it, this neglect results in a woefully incomplete and very unconvincing account of the nature of the social institution of debt - which is supposed to be his main topic. I also didn't find Graeber's account of the nature of exchange either clear or convincing.

Ro said...

I liked this as well (probably the best review out at the moment) but would have appreciated if Beggs had done Graeber the service of reading the footnotes, following up on Hudson, and then responding to that and MMT, upon which Graeber quite reasonably relies for a lot of his economic conclusions rather than engorging his already quite lengthy book with another 1000 pages on modern international macroeconomics and finance.

That said, I agree a bit more on the law would have been nice. Hudson's analysis of democracy as a tool for banking interests to secure the debt of the sovereign king to the public lands is particularly relevant, in my opinion.

y said...

"Hudson's analysis of democracy as a tool for banking interests to secure the debt of the sovereign king to the public lands is particularly relevant"

woah. I need to read that.

Leverage said...

I'm also interested in that, please could you provide a link or reference? Sounds really interesting.

Ro said...

http://michael-hudson.com/2011/12/democracy-and-debt/