‘Cognitive closure’ in the Netherlands: mortgage securitization in a hybrid European political economy
There is a strong case that mortgage-backed securities were at the root of the 2007 – 09 financial crisis. Even though geographers have convincingly demonstrated that loan origination is strongly locally rooted and that the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis clearly had spatially circumscribed effects, securitization is still generally perceived as a universal, private, and purely market-based financial technique. In this paper we use a description of the securitization chain in the Netherlands to contest these perceptions. Building on and adding to Thomas Wainwright’s analysis of securitization in the UK, we first argue that securitization in the Netherlands has taken a form which reflects Dutch corporatist institutional arrangements, implying that both geography and states do matter for the supposedly aspatial process of securitization. Second, we argue that the Dutch state has been very much implicated in the construction of the securitization market in the Netherlands. Third, we suggest that this can best be seen as an effect of ‘cognitive closure’ rather than of ‘regulatory capture’: that is, Dutch pro-banking regulation is not so much an effect of bankers hijacking regulators but, rather, more the result of bankers seducing regulators with their stories. This paper is a detailed case study of the workings of financialization and adds to the growing body of work which seeks to analyze the different ‘varieties of financialization’ and the variegated geographies of the financial crisis.
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