How much of the Housing Bubble took place in Spanish?
October 20, 2008, 09:19 AM
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The NYT article on Clinton Housing and Urban Development secretary Henry Cisneros's role in debauching mortgage credit standards in the name of helping lower income people get their hands on the American Dream raises a question that I've wondering about for awhile. I suspect that when the dust settles and we finally realize what an outsized role Hispanics had in mortgage defaults that set off the global credit crisis, we'll begin to realize that one reason the insanity of the Bubble years stayed somewhat under the national radar was that some of the very worst aspects of it were being conducted in Spanish. For example, Spanish language radio stations are hurting financially right now because they had been getting so much advertising from mortgage brokers and real estate agents. (When you read about some poor illegal immigrant maid taking out a $400,000 loan that she didn't understand from a predatory lender, read carefully and you'll note that the "predatory lender" who talked her into was almost always a Spanish-speaker himself.)

And there were a lot of English-speaking working-class Hispanics who got in on the bubble, too, but they are almost equally invisible to the NY-DC axis of power and influence in this country.