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Debt, Power, and Crisis: Social Stratification and the Inequitable Governance of Financial Markets

Credit markets lie at the heart of many economic crises, shaping policy responses and reinforcing inequities. This essay examines the power dynamics embodied in debt relationships, the propensity of credit markets to create conditions of economic fragility, and the interactions between financial markets and existing social stratifications. It explores case studies of credit markets and crisis: racialized lending in the subprime mortgage markets, the European sovereign debt crisis, the Latin American debt crisis, and capital flight from sub-Saharan Africa. The essay concludes with a consideration of how economic and social rights provide an alternative framework for financial governance.

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