Delinquent: Inside America’s Debt Machine, University of California Press, October 2022

For the last half-century, Americans from the left and the right have mostly agreed on one thing: access to credit is a good thing, and government should try to protect (and expand) credit access. But as of 2019, American families spend an average of $1,023 per year on credit card interest and fees alone. When I quit my job at Capital One, where I spent five years designing credit policy, I set out to answer one question: “When is access to credit a good thing — something to protect and promote — and when does debt set American families back?

Delinquent is an economic history, but it’s also a deeply interwoven story about human decisions: the decisions made by specific policymakers, senators, entrepreneurs, executives, homemakers, social workers, mothers, fathers, students, to build and maintain the credit card industry, a system of wealth transfer unlike any institution in world history.

Delinquent by Elena Botella

Publisher’s Weekly named Delinquent a Top Ten Fall Release in Business and Economics.

Delinquent: Inside America’s Debt Machine was longlisted for the Porchlight Business Book Award.

Dylan Schleicher of Porchlight Books writes:

“Income inequality has been written about ad nauseam, but we should keep on talking and reading about it. What Elena Botella teaches us is that inequality is not only exacerbated by, but is in many ways created by, how credit functions in our economy. She eschews the typical talking points of both the left and the right for a more nuanced view that most people, in most cases, are simply taking on too much debt. And the current system is set up in such a way that people don’t have much of a choice in the matter … Even if you are tired of hearing about it, or think you know everything about the root causes of income inequality and how it might be addressed, I urge you to pick up Elena Botella’s Delinquent. It is an unexpected eye-opener and page-turner.”

You can purchase Delinquent from any bookseller. Might I suggest supporting an independent bookstore, like The Regulator or from

“You Are Not Expected to Understand This”: How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World (Princeton University Press, November 2022)

I’m one of 30 contributors to “You Are Not Expected to Understand This,” a story of technology and society, told through twenty six of the most important lines of computer code ever written.

“In truth, ‘You Are Not Expected to Understand This’ is startlingly understandable! These vivid, lucid, brilliant essays tell the origin stories of coding, the secret infrastructure that shapes our online life. We meet the people who wrote and rewrote the lines of code that changed the world. We glimpse their ambitions, mistakes, remorse, fixes, and ingenuity. We understand why (and how) women were the ones who designed early programming languages like COBOL; how pop-up ads came to exist; how the ‘like’ button blew up news and politics as we knew them. Read this book, and you will never look at your newsfeed the same way again.”—Liza Mundy, author of Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II