The introduction acquaints the reader with what is already known about bankruptcy in the twentieth century, describes the methods used in the book, and previews the central argument. The chapter begins with a broad overview of the laws and procedures governing the collection of unpaid debt at the state and describes federal bankruptcy. The text highlights the interplay between state and federal law. It introduces the interdisciplinary literature on bankruptcy, emphasizing the need for an analytic framework that integrates the story of changes in the bankruptcy law with the story of changes in the bankruptcy rate. It places the framework and methods within the contexts of New Institutional and cliometric traditions.
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