April 2008 Vol. 106 No. 6 THE REVIEW

Mann: Charging Ahead: The Growth and Regulation of Payment Card Markets

Katherine Porter

The Debt Dilemma

Charging Ahead: The Growth and Regulation of Payment Card Markets. By Ronald J. Mann. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2006. Pp. v, 308. Hardcover, $65; paper, $30.

The ubiquity of credit cards in modern economic life inspires much dismay, but little nuanced discourse. Lamentations, about undisciplined consumers or manipulative card issuers, lead to policy prescriptions aimed at reducing credit card use. Such efforts generally have failed to garner the support of consumers, who demonstrate continued preference for cards over cash or checks. These efforts have also roused the ire of opponents to market regulation and the credit industry lobby. The current dynamic of increasing credit card use juxtaposed with regulatory pressure on card markets reflects our society’s deep ambivalence about credit cards.

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