Subprime empire on the in-betweenness of finance

Caroline Schuster*, Sohini Kar

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In the decade since the 2008 global financial crisis, much of the debate has been over whom to blame: reckless speculative finance or irresponsible (often low-income) borrowers. This essay takes up this set of moral arguments about what the poor can and should be able to afford by examining subprime logics at a global scale: subprime empire. Predatory lending in heartland America and development-oriented microcredit in places such as India and Paraguay appear not just to be geographically disparate but also to have different moral valences. After closer inspection, however, we argue that subprime lending and microfinance are two sides of the same coin. Our analysis of microfinance allows us to understand what is happening in the “in-between” as capital flows between financial investors and poor borrowers. By comparing financialization in India and Paraguay, we document and theorize the making of subprime empires that rely on actors within marginal financial sites to stabilize the evaluative frameworks and social interdependencies that make profits flow. We argue that the forms of financial capture and conversion in the “financial in-between” reproduce imperial dynamics by naturalizing the limited expectations of economic subjects of the global south and erasing the violence inherent in these forms of economic redistribution that maintain those expectations as such.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)390-411
    Number of pages22
    JournalCurrent Anthropology
    Volume62
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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