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Credit Card Nation The Consequences Of America's Addiction To Credit [Hardcover]

Robert D. Manning
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 25 2000
Credit Card Nation is part history and part exposé of the damaging social and political consequences of America's increasing reliance on credit cards. Using original research and consumer interviews, Manning analyzes the growth of the credit card industry and its related businesses by looking at the story of its consumers—the people who use credit for convenience and those who rely on it for financial stability.In addition to providing a consumer history of credit card usage, Robert Manning analyzes the larger societal attitudes toward debt. The history of the credit card industry's expansion is one of the creation of a new class of consumers who utilize credit—and its steep interest and penalty rates—for economic survival. Manning discusses the societal toll that the "credit card nation" is placing on the young, the elderly, and all those in search of the "good life" marketed by the credit card and banking industries.

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No interest for one year! No annual fee! No minimum payments for six months! And, if you want to believe Robert Manning, there's no way out of the debt that we find ourselves in, as individuals and as a country. Credit Card Nation combines debt of every kind--consumer, corporate, and governmental--and creates a vast landscape of profit-spewing lenders and struggling debtors present at every level of economics. Appalling statistics set readers off on a depressing journey: the years between 1980 and 1994 saw annual consumer charges skyrocket from $170 billion to $581 billion, with the average household carrying over $4,000 in revolving debt. Accompanied by the erasure of nearly $100 billion in corporate debt and tremendous tax cuts for ever-merging conglomerates, the end of the 20th century seems to be just the beginning of an overwhelming cycle. While Manning's book is extensively researched, it is also extremely readable. Individual stories of junk bondsmen, corporate raiders, and middle-class consumers are threaded throughout the pages of charts and statistics, with a few surprises. While most media would have us believe that students who rack up charge accounts are totally irresponsible, the reality is that some of these students are helping their families with cash-advance loans to make mortgage or insurance payments. Emphasis is also placed on the tremendous advertising budgets of credit card companies: Manning comments on "how quickly the cultural norms have changed in the Credit Card Nation," we see a poster insisting "money can't buy you love, but a credit card can get you started." This is not a self-help book, and Manning has no 12-step program for debtors at any level. Credit Card Nation simply tells it as it is. --Jill Lightner

From Publishers Weekly

A sociology professor whose specialty is the effect of credit card debt on college students, Manning expands his focus here to encompass social attitudes toward all types of debt. Suggesting that debt leads not only to financial ruin but also to moral and social degradation, this dense, technical work is filled with jargon (chapter four, for example, is subtitled "Convenience Users and the Ideological Construction of the Moral Divide"). In the first-person interviews with college students, the subjects are rarely allowed to complete a sentence. Instead, Manning embeds phrases from the interviews into his own argument. Since we never learn more than a few facts about each interviewee (not even a last name or college affiliation), they serve as chorus to the monologue rather than adding weight or complexity to Manning's thesis. When relating facts, Manning puts quotation marks around the many terms he disagrees with, conveying his opinion without supporting evidence for his views. Loaded words substitute for exposition: people do not choose to borrow, they are "addicted to credit"; he does not deem them "borrowers," but "users"; no one simply owes money--instead, everyone is "burdened," "oppressed" or "overwhelmed" by debt, even when the debt seems small relative to their assets and income. (Feb. 2)Forecast: Manning's book may interest professional sociologists, but general readers will find it difficult to understand in some places, dogmatic and unsubstantiated elsewhere. However, given its timely topic, the book is likely to receive serious review attention, and will pick up some sales due to Manning's media appearances (he's been featured on ABC World News Tonight, CNN and elsewhere. But the book's academic gloss will keep sales from rising high, despite the millions of Americans suffering from debt overload.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Had this professor when he was researching this book
I know Professor Manning from his days teaching class at Georgetown and American universities in DC. He was a fairly nice guy and a decent professor, with some fun arguments. Read more
Published on Dec 3 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Study of Consumer Debt
A striking and keen assessment of the credit card industry and damning expose'of corporate tactics to lure the unsuspecting and inexperienced into a life of consumerism. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2002 by Dr. J.D. Stelwagen
1.0 out of 5 stars Yawn.
Having just finished Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation," I had high expectations for this book as well. Read more
Published on April 21 2002 by Kyralessa
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a question of free will? NOT!
Several reviewers here of Manning's *Credit Card Nation* take him to task for proposing sweeping regulatory reforms to get Americans out from under the stupendous national credit... Read more
Published on March 2 2002 by Kerry Walters
5.0 out of 5 stars Victims of credit cards or just irresponsible?
Well, the chicken and egg question: Are we victims of credit cards infiltrating every aspect of our lives, or merely not taking responsibility? Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2001 by Edward Crawford
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent History, Shoddy Public Policy
Robert Manning has written an outstanding history of consumer credit in 20th/21st century America. He covers the significant changes in federal banking laws and regulations, as... Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2001 by Charles S. Gramaglia
3.0 out of 5 stars What's the big deal?
First off, I didn't buy or read this book. However, all the reviews motivated me to wonder what all these folks were thinking BEFORE they read the book. Read more
Published on July 25 2001 by Mikem
5.0 out of 5 stars You, and The Credit Card's Triangle of Debt
Credit Card Nation is a scathing, pithy,concise indictment on our consumption- driven society, a society in which the average savings rate is now MINUS 1-3% (! Read more
Published on June 30 2001 by Caliope
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Every High School Student & Many Adults
This book provides excellent insight into how the credit card industry operates and how they trap ever more suspecting people into a viscious cycle of debt. Read more
Published on June 24 2001 by Frederick S. Goethel
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting analysis of debt.....
Although there is a short attack on Reagan deficit spending during the eighties, this book mainly focuses on America's increasing dependence on short term debt (i.e. credit cards). Read more
Published on June 18 2001 by Austin Grisham
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