In Debt We Trust (2006)

America Before the Bubble Bursts

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Documentary Description

Why are so many Americans are being strangled by debt? In Debt We Trust is a journalistic confrontation with what former Reagan advisor Kevin Phillips calls "Financialization," the "powerful emergence of a debt-and-credit industrial complex."

In America's earliest days, there were barn-raising parties in which neighbors helped each other build up their farms. Today, in some churches, there are debt liquidation revivals in which parishioners chip in to free each other from growing credit card debts that are driving American families to bankruptcy and desperation. IN DEBT WE TRUST is the latest film from Danny Schechter, "The News Dissector," director of the internationally distributed and award-winning WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception), an expose of the media's role in the Iraq War. The Emmy-winning former ABC News and CNN producer's new hard-hitting documentary investigates why so many Americans are being strangled by debt. It is a journalistic confrontation with what former Reagan advisor Kevin Phillips calls "Financialization"--the "powerful emergence of a debt-and-credit industrial complex." While many Americans may be "maxing out" on credit cards, there is a deeper story: power is shifting into fewer hands.....with frightening consequences. IN DEBT WE TRUST shows how the mall replaced the factory as America's dominant economic engine and how big banks and credit card companies buy our Congress and drive us into what a former major bank economist calls modern serfdom. Americans and our government owe trillions in consumer debt and the national debt, a large amount of it to big banks and billions to Communist China.

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Just a few decades ago, owing more money than you had in your bank account was the exception, not the rule. Yet, in the last 10 years, consumer debt has doubled and, for the first time, Americans are spending more than they're saving -- or making. This April, award-winning former ABC News and CNN producer Danny Schechter investigates America's mounting debt crisis in his latest hard-hitting expose, IN DEBT WE TRUST.

While many Americans are "maxing out" on credit cards, there is a much deeper story: power is shifting into fewer hands...with frightening consequences. IN DEBT WE TRUST reveals a hitherto unknown cabal of credit card companies, lobbyists, media conglomerates and the Bush administration itself, which has colluded to deregulate the lending industry, ensuring that a culture of credit dependency can flourish. In the film, Schechter exposes the mechanisms and machinations behind the hidden financial and political complex that allows even the lowest wage earners to indebt themselves so heavily that house repossessions have become commonplace. One expert in the film goes so far as to dub this "21st-century serfdom."

Inspired by scholar Robert Manning - one of the films' key advisers' - and his seminal book "Credit Card Nation", IN DEBT WE TRUST showcases his insights about the impact of debt on young people and our society. It also suggests the kinds of practical efforts needed to empower the public with information to avoid the traps of debt dependency.

The whole world depends on the economic stability of the United States. Yet, as its national and consumer debt escalates, our interconnected global economy is at incredible risk. IN DEBT WE TRUST, as timely and relevant as a film can be, delivers an urgent warning that can't be ignored.

Documentary ‘In Debt We Trust’ Opens Nationally at The Little March 30

Credit card expert Robert Manning and RIT students featured in Danny Schecter film

200703/manning.jpgPhoto by A. Sue Weisler

Robert Manning

by Marcia Morphy, March 19, 2007 —

America is facing the financial consequences of a “Double Bubble”

where falling housing prices and bloated mortgage payments

are squeezing consumers already burdened with record household debt.

—Robert D. Manning

Research professor, consumer financial services

RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business

Americans are maxing out on credit cards—facing skyrocketing mortgage payments and being strangled by debt.

Debt is the primary focus of In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts, a hard-hitting documentary produced by Danny Schecter (director of the acclaimed WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2004).

Inspired by the book, Credit Card Nation, by Professor Robert D. Manning of Rochester Institute of Technology, In Debt We Trust makes its nationwide premiere in Rochester at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 30 at the Little Theatre—followed by a question and answer “Rough Cut” reception in the Little Café. The film is scheduled for a limited-run through Thursday, April 4, and then it will be released across the country.

“The collapse of the sub-prime lending market foreshadows an impending ripple throughout the U.S. economy as the end of easy credit will force millions of Americans to abruptly curtail their credit dependent lifestyles,” says Manning, a leading critic of the nation’s financial services industry and professor of consumer financial services and director of the Center for Consumer Financial Services at RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business.

In Debt We Trust made its campus debut last October at RIT, after opening in the summer at the Nantucket Film Festival.

“The film provides important insights into the marketing strategies of the credit card industry, role of the U.S. Congress in permitting deceptive and exploitive lending practices, as well as the subsequent impact of soaring consumer debt on young people and the future of our society,” explains Manning, editorial advisor for the film.

“But viewers won’t go home without some answers,” he says. “We also suggest ways to avoid the traps of debt and dependency and encourage Americans to re-examine the role of credit and consumption in their daily lives. We may be sounding the alarm, but we are answering it with the organization of the ‘Fair and responsible lending’ campaign at

Earlier this year, Manning enhanced his visibility when he was called to Washington to testify before Sen. Dodd’s (D-CT) Senate Banking Committee on credit card industry practices and consumer impact. Manning will be interviewed this week by CNN’s Paula Zahn, who is preparing an investigative, 3-part series called “Debtor Nation.”

For more information about the In Debt We Trust premiere at The Little, contact Molly Weimer, RIT Center for Consumer Financial Services,, at (585) 475-4342 or [email protected].


Editor’s Note: Robert D. Manning-Credit Card Industry—RIT PODCAST available at:

Source: Rochester Institute of Technology



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