The Bonds of Inequality

Debt and the Making of the American City

Destin Jenkins

The Bonds of Inequality

Destin Jenkins

320 pages | 26 halftones, 10 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2021
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226721545 Will Publish March 2021
Indebtedness, like inequality, has become a ubiquitous condition in the United States. Yet few have probed American cities’ dependency on municipal debt, and how the terms of municipal finance structures racial privileges, entrenches spatial neglect, elides democratic input, and distributes wealth and power.

In this deeply researched book, Destin Jenkins shows in vivid detail how, beyond the borrowing decisions of American cities and beneath its quotidian infrastructure, lurks a world of politics and finance that is rarely seen, let alone understood. Focusing on San Francisco, The Bonds of Inequality offers a singular view of the postwar city, one where the dynamics that drove its creation arose not only within local politics, but also in banks, credit rating firms, insurance companies, and the national municipal bond market. Moving between the local and the national, The Bonds of Inequality uncovers how racial inequalities in San Francisco were intrinsically tied to these financial arrangements and how these arrangements were central in determining the distribution of resources in the city. By homing in on financing and its imperatives, Jenkins boldly rewrites the history of modern American cities, revealing the hidden strings that bind debt and power, race and inequity, democracy and capitalism.
List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations


Part I: Rule of Experts

1. Management
2. Fraternity
3. Playground

Part II: The Paradox of Debt

4. Shelter
5. Crunch
6. Revolt
7. Failure

Part III: Supremacy

8. Eclipse
9. Pinched

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