American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis (2020-2021)


Ten years after the failure of Lehman Brothers – the event commonly viewed as ground zero of the financial crisis – there is still debate about the causes of the crisis and the efficacy of policy responses. However, there is little debate about the central role subprime home loans originated by mortgage brokers and banks played in the crisis.

Abusive and predatory conduct in the home loan market was a matter of concern for policymakers well before the crisis, but the Federal Reserve did not fully implement powers to regulate the mortgage market conferred on it by Congress. Many state and local governments did enact legislation in response to abusive and predatory conduct in the low- and moderate-income market by mortgage brokers and bankers.

A common explanation for federal policymakers’ failure to act and opposition to state action was a concern about creating a “patchwork quilt” of regulation that would restrict access to credit. However, state and local governments saw abuses in the mortgage market as a signal that something was wrong. This project will explore these divergent responses and the implications for preventing the next financial crisis.

Project Description

Building on the work of the 2019-2020 project team, this project seeks to deepen the public’s understanding of the policy and market dynamics in the run-up to the financial crisis and explain the divergent responses among federal and state/local policymakers as well as the implications for preventing the next financial crisis. Team members will achieve this objective through a multi-method and interdisciplinary exploration of signals and stories in the run-up to the Crisis.

In 2019-2020, the team began collecting and analyzing mortgage market data and media coverage in North Carolina in the decade leading up to the financial crisis. In 2020-2021, team members will continue data collection and analysis by expanding the project’s geographic scope. To do this, the team will focus on the Sun Belt states and other regions where the housing market experienced especially pronounced price increases before the crisis and particularly dramatic declines afterward.

Members of the team will also collect oral history interviews to chronicle the human experiences of the crisis at the state-level, beginning with North Carolina. These interviews will include a variety of stakeholders, such as regulators, bankers, community groups and NGOs, real estate agents, mortgage brokers and borrowers.

Anticipated Outputs

Interactive website; blog posts; policy papers; journal articles


Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

  • Fall 2020: Review Data+ analysis; develop research agenda; develop interview strategy; conduct oral history interviews
  • Spring 2021: Conduct comparison policy analysis; review and analyze oral histories; produce policy briefs; conclude archivization


Maria Paz Rios

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Two Faculty Receive Inaugural Bass Connections Leadership Award

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Duke Law Faculty, Students Tackling Diverse Interdisciplinary Research Projects through Bass Connections

See related teams, American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis (2021-2022) and American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis (2019-2020), and related Data+ summer project, American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis (2020).


Image: Sign of the times, foreclosure, by Jeff Turner, licensed under CC BY 2.0


Team Leaders

  • Edward Balleisen, Sanford School of Public Policy|Arts & Sciences-History
  • Deborah Goldstein, North Carolina Leadership Forum
  • Lee Reiners, Duke Law-Global Financial Markets Center
  • Joseph Smith, Former North Carolina Commissioner of Banks

/graduate Team Members

  • McKenna Baker, Juris Doctor
  • Michael Dymond, Business Administration-MBA
  • Esther Hong, Juris Doctor
  • Katie Kaufman, Juris Doctor
  • Malena Lopez-Sotelo, Mgt Science and Technology Mgt
  • Patrick Rochelle, Masters of Public Policy
  • Sebastian Soriano Perez , Interdisciplinary Data Science - Masters

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Collins Abanda, Computer Science (AB)
  • Arjun Bakshi, Public Policy Studies (AB), Psychology (AB2)
  • Carolyn Chen
  • Darielle Engilman
  • Jett Hollister, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BS2)
  • Braelyn Parkman, Public Policy Studies (AB), History (AB2)
  • Sana Pashankar
  • Cameron Polo, Economics (BS)
  • Raghav Rasal
  • Maria Rios, Mathematics (AB), History (AB2)
  • Jacob Satisky, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Neha Vangipurapu
  • Olivia Wivestad
  • Jessie Xu, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Sarah Zhao, Mathematics (BS), Economics (BS2)
  • Yinhong Zhao, Economics (BS), Mathematics (BS2)
  • Charlie Zong, Philosophy (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Sara Greene, Duke Law
  • Sarah Bloom Raskin, Rubenstein Fellows Academy

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Sean Nguyen, Undergraduate Student, UNC-Chapel Hill