THE HOUSING/FINANCIAL COMPLEX IN SPAIN: After the 2008 Global Financial Crisis


The 2008 global financial crisis prompted a tectonic shift in the Spanish model, which was based on a debt-driven homeownership society. In the aftermath of the financial crash, the restructuring of the real estate and financial market through intervention of the Spanish government has been a privileged object of urban analysis, with scholars researching the role of the Management Company for Assets Arising from Bank Reorganization (SAREB) and Spanish real estate investment trusts (REITs) in deleveraging the overhang of nonperforming mortgages from banks. This focus has nonetheless led to neglect of the central role of privately funded asset management companies (AMCs) in Spain, which have not figured highly in urban discussions about post-2008-financial-crisis housing restructuring. In this article, which emanates from a larger study examining the re-setting of relations between real estate and financial actors in Spain, I argue that research should pay more attention to the role of privately funded AMCs. I contend that AMCs function as the operational infrastructures of financialization on behalf of investment funds, as they transform nonperforming mortgages into income-producing assets in the housing sector. Analyses of the role of AMCs also help us better understand the role of Spanish REITs owned by investment funds. Through a detailed examination of the Spanish institutional structure that links housing with financial channels, and by introducing the key role of AMCs at the nexus of such a link, in this article I outline the operations of the emerging housing/financial complex in Spain in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.