“Any idiot” can trade in other people’s debt. John Oliver just bought $15 million… and then forgave it all
All around the world, households and countries rely on massive amounts of debt. In this 20 minute video, John Oliver explains how the industry around debt works, and how shockingly easy it is to manipulate it
We love John Oliver. We always have. But now we love him even more, because he's talking about one of the biggest issues in the economy: debt, or "the reason Nicholas Cage has made so many great choices in recent years."
Loads of people finds themselves in debt through no fault of their own. No surprises there: what’s crazy is how an entire industry has been built around something which, in his own words, "any idiot" can buy and sell, and then come up with all sorts of questionable ways to make them pay it back.
In this 20-minute video, Oliver breaks down:
How exactly debt collection works: “Let’s say you have $1000 credit card debt which you can’t pay. They’ll sell your debt off to a buyer for $50. They can come after you for the full amount, or resell it for another fraction. And they track it all in Excel. Nothing good happens in Excel.”
How debt that you thought was dead and gone can actually come back to life (known as “zombie debt”)
How it’s possible to collect debt from people who've passed away (“the sleaziest way of making money imaginable other than a petting zoo attendant charging 10 bucks extra to let you get to second base with a goat.”)
Just how shockingly easy it is to become a debt collector… proven by the fact that he (and his team) successfully bought $15 million of debt owed by 9000 people, and in the biggest money giveaway in the history of television ("F**k you Oprah!"), forgave it all.
…and who’s getting the bill for all this? Money is such a core part of the economy, and a lot of economic power lies in the hands of those who print it, earn it, and spend it. But money’s not just as a tool for exchange; it’s taken on a value in itself, and there’s a whole economy around money alone…