Miller Center

Anthony Ross

History, University of Michigan

The Ownership Society: Mortgage Securitization and the Metropolitan Landscape Since the 1960s

Ross photo

Anthony Ross is a Research Associate at the University of Michigan.

“The Ownership Society” examines the systematic transformation of the U.S. home finance industry between the 1960s and the 1990s.  During the early postwar era, a federal-local system of home finance compromised between the capital mobility required for suburban growth and the barriers that sustained localized financial relationships.  In the late 1960s, this system began to change.  To attract new sources of capital to a tightening mortgage market, policymakers partnered with financial elites to create a state-supported institutional network that would transform illiquid mortgages held by local financial institutions into liquid securities marketable on national and international capital markets.  By abstracting the value of place-bound mortgages and consolidating circuits of capital, mortgage securitization transformed the political economy of home finance.  Other policy changes during the 1970s and 1980s, such as the liberalization of branching regulations, contributed to the growth of securitization and the de-segmentation of the industry.  By the end of the 1980s, the  securitized home finance system had replaced the federal-local system of the early postwar era. “The Ownership Society” explores the causes and effects of this transformation through policy history and local case studies.  Its approach combines an economic history of home finance with a cultural history of homeownership.

Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: Kimberly Phillips-Fein, New York University

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