On Sarah L. Quinn’s American Bonds. How Credit Markets Shaped a Nation, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019

Alex PREDA*, Lena LAVINAS*, Benjamin LEMOINE*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsReview articleOther Review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Sarah Quinn’s American Bonds is a broad and sweeping, indeed remarkable account of the history of credit as a social and political instrument, and as a policy-making tool in USA. Usually, when we think of credit, we think of banks as lending institutions, of credit unions, of savings of loans or rating agencies. Quinn’s perspective is different: she is interested in the state—specifically, the US government—as a promoter of credit, creator and regulator of credit institutions. Why the state? Because, as Quinn convincingly shows in the first half of her book, the state has to organize, transform, expand, regulate and rule its territory—considerable tasks that continue until at least the middle of the 20th century. Therefore, the state undertakes and supervises credit land sales, farm credit, housing credit, expansion of the cities through credit and so on. Quinn’s narrative goes against the received, romanticizing rhetoric of a ‘natural abundance’ of the land inviting westward expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1485-1495
Number of pages11
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number4
Early online date4 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Credit
  • Financial markets
  • History
  • State
  • US Government

Cite this