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Bank Job

By Hilary Powell, Daniel Edelstyn


The art avengers…took on toxic debt culture – and won the Guardian

These artists want to blow up the whole financial system The New York Times

Meet the Bonnie and Clyde of bad debt!

When art meets finance, ‘The Big Bang’ takes on a whole new meaning. This is brilliant performative protest. Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics

Bank Job is a white-knuckle ride into the dark heart of the global financial system. Artist and filmmaker duo Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn discover that behind the opaque language of loans and the defunct diagrams of money and debt is a system flawed by design and ripe for hacking. They assemble a team and bring a community together by printing their own money in a disused bank in East London, in order to buy up and abolish local debt. Part daring tale, part personal memoir and part economic education, this book is perfect for fans of Grace Blakely and David Graeber. Bank Job shows how the financial system can be changed to meet the needs of the many, not just the few one bank job at a time.

Reviews and Praise

‘When art meets finance, “The Big Bang” takes on a whole new meaning. This is brilliant performative protest.’—Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics

‘Banks rob us blind every day, and so Powell and Edelstyn started one that did exactly the opposite. It became a truly great work of art, and this book is a remarkable record of what we should learn from their achievement about the urgent need for debt abolition and peoples’ financing.’—Andrew Ross, author of Creditocracy: And the Case for Debt Refusal

‘Hilary and Dan are the Bonnie and Clyde of renegade economics, bringing a deeply imaginative, beautiful, rebel swagger to staid debate about debt. I love absolutely everything about Bank Job: its persistence, its guts, its compassion, its attention to detail and beauty. My visit to the Bank will stay with me always, and the ripples from this brave and brilliant project have only just begun.’—Rob Hopkins, founder, Transition movement; author of From What Is to What If 

‘In the adventure Dan and Hilary take us on, we see the antiquated architecture of the financial system for what it is and are motivated to join in with them to pull it down so that a new system can be built to meet the great challenges of the 21st century – earth-systems breakdown and obscene levels of inequality. This is a timely book, written with passion and verve, that shows how political will, creativity and the arts were deployed to transform the lives of debtors. Dan and Hilary’s lived experience will inspire and strengthen the global movement for economic and ecological justice.’—Ann Pettifor, author of The Case for The Green New Deal

‘I can’t think of any more exciting exposé of the role of debt in blighting people’s lives than this book. As the spectre of debt looms over us in all its forms, from personal to sovereign debt, this book couldn’t be more timely. As establishment politicians seek to load the economic burden of the pandemic onto people’s shoulders across the globe, this exhilarating tale inspires the resistance we desperately need.’—John McDonnell, MP and former Shadow Chancellor

‘We’re all going around feeling something is wrong but it often ends up veering off in reactionary directions. I think this is wonderful because it marshals that sense of unease and builds it into a community and I love the way you are using it to create ties with each other and cancel debt and expose the sheer hypocrisy of the morality of debt.’—David Graeber, anthropologist and author of Bullshit Jobs and Debt: The First 5,000 Years

‘Art pirates, debt destroyers and dreamers for a new economy unite! Hilary and Dan show us how the power of creativity can be a catalyst for grassroots activism when we need it the most. This book will be treasured by all those who are convinced that the radical imagination can triumph against capitalism.’—Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice; author of Revenge Capitalism and Art After Money, Money After Art

‘The UK economy is weighed down by billions of pounds worth of unpayable debt – much of it owed by low-income households struggling to get by. With the COVID-19 pandemic slashing people’s incomes – after a decade of wage stagnation – many households are now on the brink of default, even as the government pumps unprecedented sums of money into our financial system. Bank Job is a vivid portrait of the UK’s debt crisis, which also answers the question as to what we should do with all this debt: blow it up!’—Grace Blakeley, author of Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation

‘One of the greatest obstacles to change is our inability to believe in or visualise the world being different. That’s where the creative activists and film makers Hilary Powell and Daniel Edelstyn succeed. Their work rips the veil from a banking and financial system which has normalised economic deception and destructive and irresponsible gambling on a vast scale. More than a simple exposé of the ludicrous rewards going to handful of speculators for risking other people’s money, Bank Job shows how a community can come together to reimagine the economy to meets their own needs.’—Andrew Simms, author, co-director of New Weather Institute, coordinator of Rapid Transition Alliance

‘They didn’t just blow the bl**dy doors off: the whole van went up, and with it, the full sorry story of debt and its stranglehold on ordinary lives across the world. While countries and corporations wallow in the red, it’s a black day indeed for millions when the balance of payments tips against them. Now, Powell and Edelstyn, the Thelma and Louise of finance hacking, deliver a rock n’ roll history of where it all went wrong, and how it can start to go right. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for the cunning collaborative creativity of their project, but it’s not over yet. Much more action is needed, and Bank Job gives you all the tools to finish what they started. Right here’s where we start paying . . . in sweat! Keep the engine running, we’re going in. . . .’—Gareth Evans, producer, Patience after Sebald