It is common knowledge that crisis also signifies opportunity and opens spaces for change. When responding to the current economic crisis, is urban planning seizing this opportunity? This article investigates the case of the Swedish city of Malmö and explores its responses to the crisis by looking dialectically at the crisis, municipal planning policy and real‐estate capital. In this article, the local state and urban planning are regarded as social relations, with the aim of going beyond traditional formulations that oppose market (neoliberal) and state intervention (Keynesianism) as the main focus for crisis management. Against this background, the article shows that the 2008 crisis was met in Malmö by an active municipality that confirmed the existing visions and tendencies, rather than exploiting the crisis as a moment for changes and transformation. The article seeks to explain this by looking at the social relations that have constituted the urban policies in Malmö for the past two decades.