2009 volume 41(6) pages 1420 – 1441

Open Access until 31st Dec 2015 Creative Commons License

Cite as:
Ashton P, 2009, "An appetite for yield: the anatomy of the subprime mortgage crisis" Environment and Planning A 41(6) 1420 – 1441

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An appetite for yield: the anatomy of the subprime mortgage crisis

Philip Ashton

Received 29 November 2007; in revised form 30 May 2008; published online 23 February 2009

Abstract. Whereas policy makers and industry advocates have hailed the growth of the subprime mortgage market in the US as evidence that financial innovation can more efficiently price and absorb credit risk, the 2007 mortgage crisis provides an opportunity to revisit the nature of financial risk. This paper employs a forensic analysis of the development of the subprime market from the 1980s through 2007 to argue that, in a competitive environment marked by the greater integration between housing finance and capital/equity markets, financial innovations provide new opportunities to hedge risk even as they collapse the barriers to rivalries between firms. This has changed the terrain for risk assessment, promoting new modes of financial competition that have intensified systemic risk and extended it to a widening set of firms, households, and communities.

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