The Local Wreckage of Global Capital: The Subprime Crisis, Federal Policy and High‐Foreclosure Neighborhoods in the US


The US subprime crisis beginning in 2007 was largely the result of an increasingly direct connection between global capital markets and US homeowners and neighborhoods, with little mediation, oversight or restraint, especially on the part of the public sector. There was little concern as to the consequences that high‐risk lending might have on local communities and their residents. Rather, the focus was on promoting liquidity at all costs, in order to increase transaction volumes (and associated profits) and promote the short‐term economic growth that came with greater financialization. As part of their deregulatory agenda, federal policymakers pre‐empted states’ attempts to regulate subprime lending, despite the fact that a key outcome of the crisis — the accumulation and concentration of vacant foreclosed properties — hit many local communities hard. After summarizing the key origins of the crisis, including the role of federal policymakers in supporting subprime lenders and pre‐empting state lending regulations, I describe the piling up of vacant foreclosed properties in many neighborhoods. Foreclosed properties can pose many difficulties for communities, especially those already suffering from other economic and structural disadvantages. I also discuss the primary federal response to the problem of vacant foreclosed properties, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which was adopted in the summer of 2008.