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Giving Credit where it's Due: Public Policy and Household Debt in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada

Montgomerie, Johnna. 2006. Giving Credit where it's Due: Public Policy and Household Debt in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Policy and Society, 25(3), pp. 109-142. ISSN 1449-4035 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The dominant account of rising household indebtedness in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada claims that current economic stimuli, namely low nominal interest rates and rising property markets, are the key reasons debt has grown so rapidly since the mid-1990s. By drawing on key theoretical assumptions from neoclassical economics, policy makers have argued that rising debt levels since the mid-1990s shows that households are rational agents taking advantage of cheaper credit to purchase assets; thus, the equilibrating effect of market society translates into a balance between rising debt and rising assets. This article puts forward an alternative framework for evaluating potential contributing factors of rising household indebtedness in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada by evaluating the long-term impacts of policies implemented to achieve non-inflationary growth. Using a neo-Gramscian method of analysing historical structures, it is argued that growing household indebtedness was not an inevitable outcome of the policy of non-inflationary growth. Instead, it was most likely a product of a confluence of forces as rising demand for credit by households (due to downward pressure on wages) combined with increased supply of credit (as banks sought profitable returns in a liberalised market) to generate indebtedness. By locating the specific policy processes that contributed to mass household indebtedness this article tries to more accurately understand the origins and effects of politically-led structural change.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1016/S1449-4035(06)70085-6

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics

Dates:

DateEvent
2006Published

Item ID:

12598

Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2015 11:45

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 12:15

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/12598

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