It’s Our Money
It’s Our Money
Defending Financial Common Sense in a Collapsing New Deal Order
This chapter follows National People’s Action as its members enter national politics, a realm previous community organizers rarely entered. It shows that during the mid-1970s, national policymakers agreed that the financial system created by the New Deal financial regime ceased to function properly because a global credit crunch and bouts of inflation strained the nation’s banks. NPA capitalized on this window of opportunity to influence policy debates over the precise nature of financial reform. Activists made local bank reinvestment a core demand of their movement. They demanded that savings and loan associations double down on their social obligation to the communities outside their offices, especially at a time when many bankers assumed that new minority residents made urban neighborhoods “risky” investments. The chapter reveals that during this brief but generative moment, NPA’s prescription to strengthen the relationship between financial institutions and local communities emerged as a viable reform strategy. The movement scored a legislative victory in the passage of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (HMDA), which forced banks to make public the data on the geographic distribution of their loans.
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