Local Government Response 123 Harv. L. Rev. F. 21

Disappearing Neighbors

Responding to Richard C. Schragger, Mobile Capital, Local Economic Regulation, and the Democratic City, 123 Harv. L. Rev. 482 (2009)

Response To:


In his article Mobile Capital, Local Economic Regulation, and the Democratic City, Professor Richard C. Schragger explored the consequences of local governments’ attempts to entice — and then exploit — mobile capital. He concluded that cities possess, but must not abuse, the power to assert democratic control over capital flow. In this response, Professor David D. Troutt argues that current foreclosure crisis demonstrates the weakness of cities in relation to mobile capital. Using Newark as a case study, Professor Troutt explains that cities often welcomed an influx of mortgage capital only to endure a rash of foreclosures and the blowback from predatory lending. Professor Troutt notes that Newark’s history of racial segregation further exacerbated the disastrous impact of foreclosure, as lenders boarded up entire “subprime” communities. Professor Troutt laments that cities do not have the tools to address the problems associated with hyper-mobile, high-cost credit. Professor Troutt concludes that because cities can do little to redress these deleterious effects, municipalities must instead focus on eliminating the racial homogeny that encourages predatory investment.