Subprime's Silver Lining

Yeah, people got bad mortgages. But others were able to finally buy a home Subprime's Silver Lining

Joe Raedle / Getty

A foreclosure sign hangs in front of a home in Miami, Florida.

In early March, Boston College management professor Alicia Munnell gave a lecture at Yale on pension policy. "I was there, talking about retirement things," Munnell recalls, "and somebody looked at me and said, 'Are you responsible for the collapse of the subprime market?'" The question wasn't entirely out of left field. As director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Munnell co-authored a bombshell 1992 study that concluded that mortgage lenders systematically discriminated against blacks and Hispanics--even when one adjusted for income and creditworthiness.

Munnell's work propelled her into a big job in the Clinton Administration and led to new...

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