When we speak of the credit crunch of 2008-14, we are really referring to a debt crisis. Far from the aberrant outcome of an economic failure, however, debt is a necessary condition of all economy. This essay opens up the present banking crisis through a reading of Jacques Derrida’s Given Time. It addresses issues such as Credit Default Swaps and inter-bank lending through an understanding of finance as counterfeit money, and examines the question of credit as a problem of both faith and fiction. It concludes by attending to Baudelaire’s “Assommons les pauvres!” which Derrida describes as a “symmetrical counterpoint” to “La fausse monnaie,” the Baudelaire text that guides his own seminar.

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