With the next Washington financial mud wrestling match coming up, here are three books about how we got here.
Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Melville House) by David Graeber is an eminent anthropologist's fascinating recounting of the history of credit — which, he explains, was invented long before cash was.
Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States (Harper) by Michael Lind is a thorough account of how America's economy has grown with technological changes — and flourished most when government, labor and business have cooperated.
Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget (Crown Business) by David Wessel is a detailed look at the people and politics behind the federal budget, and the many public misconceptions about it, from the economics editor of the Wall Street Journal.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor