What We Are Reading Today: Dark Matter Credit

Updated 09 January 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Dark Matter Credit

Author: Philip T. Hoffman

Prevailing wisdom dictates that, without banks, countries would be mired in poverty. Yet somehow much of Europe managed to grow rich long before the diffusion of banks. Dark Matter Credit draws on centuries of cleverly collected loan data from France to reveal how credit abounded well before banks opened their doors, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. This incisive book shows how a vast system of shadow credit enabled nearly a third of French families to borrow in 1740, and by 1840 funded as much mortgage debt as the American banking system of the 1950s. Dark Matter Credit traces how this extensive private network outcompeted banks and thrived prior to World War I — not just in France but in Britain, Germany, and the US — until killed off by government intervention after 1918. Overturning common assumptions about banks and economic growth, the book paints a revealing picture of an until-now hidden market of thousands of peer-to-peer loans made possible by a network of brokers who matched lenders with borrowers and certified the borrowers’ creditworthiness.


What We Are Reading Today: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Updated 23 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe tells the story of the conflict in Northern Ireland between the Irish nationalists, the Catholics, and the unionists, the Protestants, in a time described as The Troubles.

Say Nothing is an excellent account of the Troubles; it might also be a warning, Roddy Doyle stated in a review published in The New York Times

“The book is cleverly structured. We follow people — victim, perpetrator, back to victim — leave them, forget about them, rejoin them decades later. It can be read as a detective story,” the review added. 

Doyle said: “The book is full of the language of my youth, phrases I heard every day — ‘political status,’ ‘shoot-to-kill policy,’ ‘dirty protest,’ ‘legitimate target.’ And it is full of names, names that are more than names — Gerry Adams, Bobby Sands, the Price sisters, Burntollet Bridge, Bloody Sunday, Enniskillen, Margaret Thatcher, Ian Paisley — the names of people and places, events, that carry huge emotional clout, that can still silence a room or start a fight.”

Doyle added: “If it seems as if I’m reviewing a novel, it is because “Say Nothing” has lots of the qualities of good fiction, to the extent that I’m worried I’ll give too much away.”