American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis (2021-2022)

Ten years after the failure of Lehman Brothers – the event commonly viewed as ground zero of the financial crisis of 2007-2009 – 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.

This multiyear project has aimed 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.

In 2021-2022, team members built on the work of previous teams to synthesize information into actionable policy recommendations. The project was split into oral history and data analysis components, each of which followed a different research method: 

  • The Oral History subteam added to the team’s existing archive of original oral history interviews. The subteam was split into two teams, with one team focusing on private sector actors and the other subteam focusing on state and local policymakers. The project website now contains 99 oral history interviews, the largest collection of financial crisis interviews outside the congressionally authorized Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. 
  • The Data Analysis subteam analyzed state-level mortgage enforcement actions (MEAs) to better understand the financial crisis from a bottom-up perspective. This involved collecting the raw files of MEAs and save them for archival purposes; analyzing overarching trends in the data and conduct an exploratory data analysis (EDA); extracting text from MEAs and analyze the text for patterns through keyword marking and natural language processing (NLP); and presenting analysis through interactive dashboards and visualizations, as well as through written state summary reports. 

Learn more about this project team by viewing their lightning talk at the 2022 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase.


Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

Team Outputs

Team website

American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis (Ryder Buttry and Eli Levine, lightning talk at Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 13, 2022)

This Team in the News

A Practitioner’s View on the Value of Team-Based, Student-Powered Interdisciplinary Research

Making the Most of Duke, Summer 2021

Graduate and Professional Student Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2023

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


Image courtesy of 2019-2020 project team


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, Jr., Former North Carolina Commissioner of Banks

/graduate Team Members

  • Ryder Buttry, Masters of Public Policy
  • Samuel Wolter, Public Int & Public Svce Law-C

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Carolyn Chen, Computer Science (BS)
  • Chavez Cheong, Computer Science (BS)
  • Cameron DeChurch, Economics (BS)
  • Darielle Engilman, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • James Gao, Statistical Science (BS)
  • Shreya Joshi, History (AB)
  • Eli Levine, Economics (BS)
  • Ridge Ren, Economics (BS)
  • Neha Vangipurapu, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Sarah Walker, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Zixin Zhang, Economics (BS)