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. 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. 

Beginning with North Carolina in 1999, state and local governments across the United States enacted legislation to respond to abusive and predatory conduct in the low- and moderate-income market by mortgage brokers and bankers. These responses were accompanied by intense debate about the need for additional government intervention in the home mortgage market and its potential impact. This project will explore these divergent responses and the implications for preventing the next financial crisis. 

Project Description

This project is a continuation of the 2020-2021 team. In past projects, team members have focused on the history of North Carolina’s response to predatory lending and compared it to that of several other states by analyzing the mortgage market and interviewing market participants. 

In 2021-2022, team members will build on previous work by synthesizing all the information that was collected to date into actionable policy recommendations. To do this, the project will be split up into three components that will follow a different research method. 

  • The Oral History subteam will be adding to the team’s existing archive of oral history interviews, focusing specifically on community activists who were assisting borrowers, activists who were pushing back against predatory lending practices and mortgage brokers. This will involve identifying potential interview targets through existing team member professional networks, online research and social media.
  • The Policy Analysis subteam will analyze all the primary source material past teams have collected and synthesize this information into policy recommendations that will take the form of policy memos and longer papers.
  • The Business Analysis subteam will chart the path of two institutions through publicly available information online, including call reports and information gleaned from previous oral history interviews. These case studies will dissect the two financial institutions and track their evolution leading up to, and through, the financial crisis.

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.

Anticipated Outputs

Interactive website; blog posts; policy papers; journal articles


Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

  • Fall 2021: Review Data+ analysis; incorporate analysis into policy insights; conduct interviews; identify two firms to research; begin collecting relevant information
  • Spring 2022: Conduct interviews; produce written materials to go on website

Team Outputs

Team website

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

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

/graduate Team Members

  • Ryder Buttry, Masters of Public Policy
  • Samuel Wolter, Juris Doctor

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Carolyn Chen, Computer Science (BS)
  • Chavez Cheong
  • Cameron DeChurch, Economics (AB)
  • Darielle Engilman
  • James Gao
  • Shreya Joshi
  • Eli Levine, Economics (BS)
  • Ridge Ren, Economics (BS), Pre-College
  • Neha Vangipurapu
  • Sarah Walker, Public Policy Studies (AB), Psychology (BS2)
  • Zixin Zhang

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Joseph A. Smith Jr., N.C. Office of the Commissioner of Banks