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Maxed Out: Hard Times in the Age of Easy Creditby James D Scurlock
Synopses & Reviews
Foreclosures are hitting record highs; Americans are declaring bankruptcy at rates ten times that during the great Depression; more college students drop out because of debts than due to poor grades; reports of debtor suicides proliferate in the media. In other words, it's a great time to be in the banking business.
Maxed Out takes us on a road trip that is sometimes hysterical and often horrifying: from Las Vegas to the Bible Belt, from the backwoods to inner cities, where the world's largest financial giants troll for their next victims. Welcome to a country populated by debt pirates, corporate predators, human credit card billboards, debt evangelists, megamillion-dollar spec homes, and, of course, trillions of dollars of easy credit.
Combining startling facts with even more startling examinations of individuals, institutions, the government, and modern religion, James Scurlock separates the myths (there is good debt and bad debt) from the harsh reality (corporations partner with colleges to target today's youth; credit reports are riddled with errors that will never be fixed; and death, for many of those in trouble, is the only way out).
At a time when the financial industry posts ever-higher profits even as its clients drown in the flood of easy credit, Scurlock exposes very real, potentially disastrous systems and policies that are consuming millions of Americans. Maxed Out takes readers on a wickedly smart and entertaining tour of what one interviewee calls the last taboo.
In an infectiously entertaining narrative, the documentary film maker of "Maxed Out" pens a road trip through an America populated by debt pirates, corporate predators, human credit card billboards, debt evangelists, and trillions of dollars of easy credit.
In this shocking and illuminating road trip through an America ravaged by debt, award-winning film director James Scurlock examines our multitrillion-dollar addiction to easy credit in all of its absurdities and contradictions.
Maxed Out ventures beyond the mind-numbing statistics to expose a financial industry spinning wildly out of control. From the gilded master-planned communities of Northern Las Vegas to the shotgun shacks of the Deep South, the world's largest financial institutions are trolling for customers, hooking the nouveau riche and the poor alike with promises of cheap and easy credit. Maxed Out exposes how Wall Street and Congress spawned the subprime mortgage crisis and reveals how credit card issuers form multimillion-dollar partnerships with universities — paying them millions for access to their students' personal information, setting kids up for financial ruin before their first job. The industry's final frontier, "debt buying," is a veritable Wild West in which ambitious young men make quick fortunes off the misery and misfortune of others.
Hilarious, fascinating, and deeply disturbing, Maxed Out is one man's answer to modern America's most pressing question, "Why can't we get out of debt?"
About the Author
James D. Scurlock studied at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania before dropping out to pursue an entrepreneurial venture and later a documentary film career. His first film, Parents of the Year, won numerous awards and was an official selection of more than twenty-five film festivals. His first feature-length documentary, Maxed Out, explored our culture of debt and won the Special Jury Prize at South by Southwest. His first book, a companion to the award-winning documentary, was nominated for the National MS Society's "Books for a Better Life" Award. He has written, primarily about the impending (and now realized) financial crisis, for Slate, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and AARP Magazine, among others. He has also appeared on numerous programs, including Nightline, The Today Show, and CNBC’s Power Lunch. Scurlock lives in Santa Monica, California.
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