Leading Academic Experts to Examine Burgeoning Debt Levels at Symposium Sponsored by ABI and the University of Illinois

Leading Academic Experts to Examine Burgeoning Debt Levels at Symposium Sponsored by ABI and the University of Illinois


January 24, 2008 Alexandria, Va. —Leading U.S. and international scholars will gather to examine the phenomenon of debt at “A Debtor World: Interdisciplinary Academic Symposium on Debt,” sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) and the University of Illinois College of Law. The symposium, scheduled for May 2-3, at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., will feature a paper and presentation by each of the expert speakers on a topic related to the accumulation, psychological effects or resolution of debt. The keynote speaker at the symposium will be James Scurlock, the producer of the award-winning documentary film, Maxed Out.

Americans have committed their future cash flows at an unprecedented rate as there is almost $30,000 outstanding in consumer credit and home mortgages for every man, woman and child in the United States, according to the latest figures from the Federal Reserve. Even on an inflation-adjusted basis, that represents a thirteen-fold increase since 1946 when the figure was only $2,200. Also, business debt is nine times as large as it was in 1946. The phenomenon of rising debt levels is not confined to the United States; other countries also have experienced burgeoning levels of private debt. In the past decade, the U.S. consumer credit model has been exported to other countries as Japan, Korea and many western European countries have seen consumer debt levels skyrocket.

The purpose of the Debt Symposium is to take a scholarly examination of debt as a phenomenon, rather than as a problem or solution. It will feature leading U.S. and international scholars who have written about debt or issues related to debt in a wide range of academic disciplines such as sociology, psychology, history, philosophy, law, neuroscience, business, economics, finance, strategic management and organizational theory.

Scholars scheduled to present papers and speak at the symposium include Terry Halliday of the American Bar Foundation, Prof. Heidi Hurd of the University of Illinois (Philosophy and Law), Prof. Brian Knutson of Stanford University (Neuroscience), Prof. Stephen Lea of Exeter University (Psychology), Prof. Gerry McNamara  of Michigan State University (Management), Prof. Craig Muldrew of Queens College of Cambridge (History), Prof. George Ritzer of the University of Maryland (Sociology), Prof. Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago, (Business), Prof. Teresa Sullivan of the University of Michigan (Sociology), Prof. Paul Vaaler of the University of Minnesota (Management), Prof. Elizabeth Warren of Harvard University (Law) and Prof. Richard Wiener of the University of Nebraska (Psychology).  

Please visit http://www.abiworld.org/Debt08/for more information on the Debt Symposium. If you are a member of the press and would like to attend the symposium, please contact John Hartgen at [email protected].


ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues. The ABI membership includes nearly 11,600 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit www.abiworld.org. For additional conference information, visit http://www.abiworld.org/conferences.html.