LUANG PRABANG, LAOS - APRIL 09: The China-Laos Railway passes by a China Railway cargo shipment on April 09, 2024 in Luang Prabang, Laos. The China-Laos railway, a key project of China's Belt and Road Initiative, is a high-speed railway connecting Kunming, the capital of China's Yunnan province, to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. This railway is the biggest public infrastructure project ever undertaken by Laos, with a total length of 1,035 kilometers and a cost of US$5.9 billion, which is equivalent to around one-third of Laos' gross domestic product in 2019. The railway is dedicated to both passenger and freight traffic services, creating a new link between Laos and China, the former's neighbor and closest partner. The Laos section of the railway is part of a vision to build a Pan-Asia railway that will ultimately connect China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, improving the efficiency of goods movement for export-driven economies along the route, opening up travel and extending China's influence deep into Southeast Asia. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

Debt-Trap Diplomacy

How justified are recent claims that China has been buying significant quantities of debt to undermine the sovereignty of African nations?
African american jazz musician with saxophone in front of old wooden wall.

The Debtor’s Blues: Music and Forced Labor

Debt peonage is often associated with agricultural labor, but in the early twentieth century, Black musicians found themselves trapped in its exploitative cycle.
Piggy bank sinking in water

How We All Got in Debt

Consumer debt shapes American lives so thoroughly that it seems eternal and immortal, but it’s actually relatively new to the financial world.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie (1921 - 2000) addresses a Drop The Debt rally in Trafalgar Square, 13th June 1999.

Debt, History of

From debtors' prison to student loan debt, six stories from the archive.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie (1921 - 2000) addresses a Drop The Debt rally in Trafalgar Square, 13th June 1999.

Debt Forgiveness and Jubilee 2000

Erasing student loans is a hot topic of conversation now. In the 1990s, debt forgiveness was an international movement.
Antique engraving of a view of the State Street, Boston. Mid 1800s.

The Birth of the Modern American Debt Collector

In the 19th century, farm loans changed from a matter between associates into an impersonal, bureaucratic exchange.
credit cards on dollars

How Credit Reporting Agencies Got Their Power

Early credit reporting companies urged people to “Treat their credit as a sacred trust” and argued that keeping a good credit record was a moral concern.
Benjamin Franklin

A Nation Built on Debt

What is debt and where did it come from?
An older prison door lock

Debtors’ Prisons, Class, and Patriotism in 18th Century Ireland

In a paper for Eighteenth-Century Ireland, Martyn J. Powell discusses the politics that seem to have limited the use of debtors' prisons in Ireland.