Ending Discrimination, Legitimating Debt: The Political Economy of Race, Gender, and Credit Access in the 1960s and 1970s

Today, in the aftermath of the subprime crisis, there is a foreboding sense that it is too easy for Americans to borrow. Living beyond our means on our cards and our mortgages, Americans borrowed at an unsustainable pace, and what put us here, the logic goes, was the unfortunate collision of lenders' greed and borrower's cupidity. Yet free-for-all borrowing defined another moment's economy as well, but without the ill consequences: the postwar period. After World War II, cheap credit underpinned the suburban prosperity, through government-insured loans, auto financing, and even department store Charga-Plates.