by Whet Moser
Megan Cottrell has a good post about a Princeton study by Jacob Rugh and Douglas Massey, which argues that the process of neighborhood segregation during the 20th century was a major contributor to the foreclosure crisis. I'll keep saying it 'til I'm blue in the face: Beryl Satter's Family Properties is a masterpiece, and a great, accessible overview of not only how housing policy and practice contributed to segregation in Chicago, but also represented a massive transfer of wealth from majority-black neighborhoods. It remains the best nonfiction book I've read since I read it.
Speaking of foreclosures, it looks like the tangled knot of mortages, the MERS system, and robo-signers may create, in the words of Yves Smith, "an attorney full employment act." If you want to stay ahead of the curve on the story, Felix Salmon, Naked Capitalism, Barry Ritholtz, and Rortybomb will all probably be covering and analyzing it closely in the coming months.
Update: Tangentially related but also very good: Broke, USA by Reader vet Gary Rivlin. If you wonder why you can't walk a block in Chicago without running into a payday loan storefont, it's worth reading. Here's Rivlin on Fresh Air.