State action and the movements of finance during the Spanish housing crisis: Alleviating or amplifying the social impacts of financialization?
This paper addresses the entanglements, complicities and collisions between financialization processes and state action during the current housing crisis in Spain, with a focus on Catalonia and the Barcelona area in the last decade. Departing from the assumption that housing financialization has been a major driver of the crisis, state interventions, including housing policies and legal regulations imposed on financial and real estate markets and on landlord-tenant relations, will be interpreted as modulators that may either alleviate or amplify the impacts of financial dynamics on people’s access to adequate housing. Drawing on the cases of several legal reforms, we will illustrate variegated attitudes towards financial extraction adopted by different state agencies. It will be thus shown how, in the rare cases where the state has tried to alleviate the social harms derived from financial extraction, reforms have been superficial, have arrived late, and have failed to reverse the structural drivers of the crisis. We will thus try to shed some light into the nature of state action in the face of housing financialization, contending that states should not be understood as outsides with respect to finance, as, to the contrary, they are part of finance’s very conditions of possibility.
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