American Policy and American Finance

Monday, May 7
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637

This event, sponsored by the Economy and Its Boundaries project, will include talks and discussion with John N. Robinson III and Kim Pernell-Gallagher on the theme of American policy and finance. The talks will feature material from two book projects: Pernell-Gallagher’s work tells the story of how cross-national differences in banking regulation developed in the decades leading up to the global financial crisis, while Robinson’s work explores the financial services industry’s growing involvement in the business of housing the poor. Together, these ongoing projects offer fresh perspectives on the shifting boundaries of the American economy by shedding light on the rise of finance and its various causes and consequences.

John Robinson (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis) will discuss research presented in his forthcoming book, Liquid City: Affordable Housing and the Politics of Racial Equity in the Age of Finance. For most of American history, the business of developing housing for low-income individuals and families has been relegated to the margins of the economy. Against this backdrop, Liquid City explores the rise of a mainstream "affordable housing industry," which has become a multibillion-dollar source of revenue for banks, private equity firms and the bond markets. Taking an in-depth look into this new market frontier, this project moves through the industry’s archives, its public and private negotiating spaces, and the multi-sited professional worlds of its members, while tracing out implications for social policy, neighborhood inequality and racial equity.

Kim Pernell-Gallagher (Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto) will discuss research presented in her forthcoming book, How the U.S. Got It Wrong: American Banking Regulation in Comparative and Historical Perspective. This book tells the story of how cross-national differences in banking regulation came to be in the decades leading up to the global financial crisis, focusing on the cases of the U.S., Canada, and Spain. Each country had a different regulatory system in place on the eve of the credit crisis, despite complying with the same international regulatory framework. American regulators embraced a uniquely freewheeling, laissez-faire regulatory model, while Canadian regulators placed more emphasis on counterbalancing risk and Spanish regulators placed strict limits on innovative activities. Adding to the puzzle, each country’s regulatory system had looked very different only two decades before. Using archival data and interviews, I explain how these policy differences developed. I offer a new take on regulatory policymaking, which highlights the important (but overlooked) role of institutions.  

Fill out my online form.