‘Asset Price Urbanism’ and Financialization after the Crisis: Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency


The impact of the global financial crisis on cities is the subject of an important body of research. One aspect which has received surprisingly little attention is the urban dimension of government interventions in the financial sector, particularly given the integration of finance and real estate is widely understood as a key driver of the crisis. This article examines one such intervention, the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), a ‘bad bank’ established by the Irish government to acquire and manage ‘toxic’ real estate loans from the banking sector. Although envisaged as an intervention in the financial sector, the relationship between finance and real estate is such that the agency has a significant impact on urban development and, at the same time, that the management of urban space plays a key role in resolving the financial crisis and restoring the flow of credit in the economy. The article develops the concept of ‘asset price urbanism’ to capture the way in which urban space and its relationship to finance is managed to bolster the relationship between real estate and credit, and theorizes this as a significant aspect of contemporary accumulation. The article thus makes an empirically grounded conceptual contribution to literature on the urban dimension of financialization.