Author Charles Geisst on Collateral Damaged

Henry Kaufman Lecture/Symposia Series

Thursday, November 5, 2009 | 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Mark Twain once remarked that “if a man owes a bank a dollar and cannot pay, he has a problem. If he owes it a million and cannot pay, it has the problem.” In Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America, author Charles Geisst takes Twain’s statement a step further and asserts, “If that happened today, the lender’s bank probably sold some of that debt to another bank, which bought it with money borrowed at 40 times its own capital. To which we may add, if a bank owes another bank a billion and cannot pay, everyone has a problem.”

Sometime in the 1970s and 1980s, the use of credit cards, which had begun as a convenience, began to grow into an addiction. In Collateral Damaged, Geisst explains how a nation of savers became a nation of consumers and how Wall Street used consumers’ addiction to spending to create the “toxic securities” that threaten to bring about the collapse of the global economy.

New York Times best-selling author Charles Geisst has written 17 books, including Undue Influence: How the Wall Street Elite Put the Financial System at Risk, Wheels of Fortune: The History of Speculation from Scandal to Respectability, The Last Partnerships: Inside the Great Wall Street Money Dynasties, and Wall Street: A History. He also is the editor and principal contributor to the Encyclopedia of American Business History and writes a column on financial affairs for Global Entreprenuer. In 2009, he was named to the Ambassador Charles A. Gargano Chair in Global Economics.

Presentation followed by book signing and reception. Reservations required. Admission is free for students and Museum members, or $15 for non-members. For additional information, please contact Lindsay Seeger at 212-908-4110 or

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