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Richard Vague is this century's incarnation of  Walter Bagehot, Charles Mackay, and Charles Kindelberger, all in one: a successful banker, brilliant author, and contrarian economist with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of money and banking, and the parts of economic theory that are worth knowing--above all the contributions of Hyman Minsky. No-one else comes close to his blend of professional experience, oratorical flair, and critical insights.

Steve Keen, Economist and Author of Debunking EconomicsThe New Economics: A Manifesto, and Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?

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About the Book

When we talk about debt and its economic impact, we usually center on “government debt”. However, this is only part of the big picture: individuals, firms, and households owe trillions and understanding this private sector debt is vital to understanding the economy.

In this iconoclastic book, Richard Vague examines the assets, liabilities, and incomes of the American economy as a whole, not just of the government. The book shows that debt growth in excess of GDP growth is a feature of modern economic systems, not a bug—and thus ever-increasing leverage is built into the very structure of the economy. Vague uses the data presented in the book to show that rising debt is the primary source of economic growth, new money creation, and wealth creation—but that it also brings heightened inequality and can bring economic calamity when left unchecked.


Vague also compares and contrasts the financial data of the U.S. to the world’s other largest economies.


As an established and independent expert on the role of private sector debt in the global economy, Vague offers an innovative set of policies to try to manage the paradox: monitoring of excessive sectoral debt, periodic debt restructuring, a training revolution, and policies to boost asset ownership for the poor.


Whether you are a policymaker looking to address this paradox of debt or a citizen looking to understand these often-confusing dynamics, this book is an indispensable guide to the underlying dynamics of the American economy.

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Order Your Copy

This is a must-read for anyone looking to understand—and fix—the deep, underlying dynamics of the American economy.

Increasing debt is what creates household growth, yet inevitably leads to economic catastrophe when occurring in excess. How can we shape policy that attempts to tame the dark side of debt while allowing it to continue to create wealth, perhaps with more equality than ever before? Secure your copy of The Paradox of Debt today, and find out how.


About Richard

Richard Vague served most recently as  Secretary of Banking and Securities for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As the author of The Case for a Debt Jubilee (2021), A Brief History of Doom (2019), and The Next Economic Disaster (2014), Richard Vague established himself as a clear and independent voice in the ongoing conversation about the role of private sector debt in the global economy. 

His Illustrated Business History of the United States offers a more general audience a clear-eyed view of 250 years of wealth creation and the people and personalities who drove that growth — and hold it today. And now, Richard’s new book, The Paradox of Debt, offers a compelling case and policy recommendations for new forms of debt monitoring, restructuring, and means to create greater socioeconomic equality through training and asset ownership programs to support underserved communities.


He currently serves as managing partner of Gabriel Investments, an early stage venture capital company. Vague was also co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Energy Plus, an electricity and natural gas supply company operating in states throughout the U.S. that was sold to NRG Energy in 2011, and also co-founder and CEO of two banks – First USA, a consumer-oriented bank which grew to be the largest Visa issuer in the industry and which was sold to Bank One in 1997, and Juniper, a bank that was the fastest growing credit card issuer in its era, which was sold to Barclays PLC in 2004.

Conference Room


Purchase 200 copies of The Paradox of Debt to share with your colleagues or students, and Richard will offer a 60-Minute Keynote session with Q&A, and a book signing—FREE! 

*After purchasing, please reach out via the Contact Page so we can confirm your proof of purchase and schedule your talk!

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