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Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast episode 50 – Devin Fergus on the Rise of Financial Fees

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Who Makes Cents is a monthly program, sponsored by Verso Books, devoted to producing engaging stories that explain how capitalism has changed over time. In interviews with historians and social and cultural critics primarily, though not exclusively, focused on U.S. history, the show highlights the political and economic changes that have created the present. Each episode gives voice to the people who have shaped capitalism — by making the rules or by breaking them, by creating economic structures or by resisting them.

Over the past few decades, financial companies have begun charging more and more hidden fees. Devin Fergus explains why Americans pay so many fees and how these fees function to redistribute wealth from ordinary Americans to the wealthy - and how this strategy has especially impacted black Americans.

Devin Fergus is the Arvarh E. Strickland Distinguished Professor of History and Black Studies at the University of Missouri. He is the author of Land of the Fee: Hidden Costs and the Decline of the American Middle Class.

Listen below or click here to download. 

Betsy A. Beasley is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book project, Expert Capital: Houston and the Making of a Service Empire, examines the cultural, political, and economic development of the globally integrated economy through the lens of the oilfield services industry. Her work has been published in Diplomatic History and is forthcoming in Radical History Review, and she cohosts and produces Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast with David Stein. Read more about her work here.

David P. Stein is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College. He specializes in the interconnections between social movements, public policy, and political economy. His first book, Fearing Inflation, Inflating Fears: The Civil Rights Struggle for Full Employment and the Rise of the Carceral State, 1929–1986, will be published by the University of North Carolina Press. He co-hosts and produces Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast with Betsy Beasley. Read more about his work here.