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Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe: Editorial

This special issue expands on the existing research on foreign-currency lending and the forex loan crisis in Eastern Europe by investigating other forms of housing-related finance and post-crisis developments. Bringing together hitherto disparate strands of research, our issue traces the linkages between macroeconomic developments, state measures, class dynamics, and social movements in the aftermath of the forex loan crises in Latvia, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hungary as part of their long-term trajectories of housing finance. We find that despite different political-institutional articulations, these trajectories all feature a new expansion of lending based on a bifurcation of the credit market into more secure, often subsidised mortgage lending aimed at better-off debtors and more risky non-mortgage loans used for housing purposes by more precarious households.

25.6.2022 | Ágnes Gagyi, Marek Mikuš | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 39-47 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.539
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Debt Relief or Exit: The Long-Term Effects of Forex Loans on Latvian Households

The stubborn decision of the Latvian government to join the eurozone at any cost put a great burden on Latvian households after the crisis of 2008. Nevertheless, no popular protest movement emerged to change the course of this decision. This study discusses why Latvians undertook individual strategies to cope with the forex loan crisis. Particularly, I look at the choice between formal debt relief procedures and emigration as alternative individual strategies for defaulted debtors. These programmes have not reversed the negative migration trends or significantly decreased the number of Latvian households in arrears. Debt discharge is mainly attainable for wealthy individuals who are able to mobilise their financial and kinship resources. Worse-off debtors cannot attain debt discharge or are stigmatised during the process. Alternatively, emigration has offered a way to cope with overindebtedness and keep up with mortgages and consumer loan payments for a much larger segment of the debtor population.

24.6.2022 | Andris Saulitis | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 48-56 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.540
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Whither Peripheral Financialisation? Housing Finance in Croatia since the Global Financial Crisis

This article analyses recent developments in Croatian housing finance to update the established account of housing finance and peripheral financialisation in Eastern Europe that is based on the boom-bust cycle of the 2000s and early-to-mid 2010s. During the bust stage of that cycle, changes in regulation and in the behaviour of debtors and creditors resulted in deleveraging and a shift away from the risky and exploitative lending practices characteristic of peripheral housing finance. However, new increases in household debt and housing prices since 2016–17, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, seem to have reversed these trends. While a boom-bust cycle of similar scope and modality to the first one is unlikely to be repeated, peripheral forms of housing finance have persisted to some degree.

23.6.2022 | Marek Mikuš | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 57-67 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.541
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Different Debtors, Different Struggles: Foreign-Currency Housing Loans and Class Tensions in Romania

Management of foreign-currency household debt in Romania in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 had the effect of deepening pre-2008 class disparities and treated debtor categories differently according to their income. In this article we contribute to the debate on subaltern financialisation by showing how post-crisis credit and housing policies contributed to the fact that today different debtor groups (i.e. by type of credit but also by time of lending) find themselves at opposing ends of the political spectrum based on different class alliances, with those who benefited from the crisis-management polices positioning themselves against those who were the ‘losers’ under these same policies.

22.6.2022 | Ioana Florea, Mihail Dumitriu | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 68-77 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.542
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Forex Mortgages and Housing Access in the Reconfiguration of Hungarian Politics after 2008

After a boom in foreign-currency denominated (forex) mortgage loans in the 2000s and the resulting debt crisis in 2008-2009, Hungary’s debt management came to be defined by a highly politicised combination of several phenomena: the existence of a large social base at risk of defaulting on their mortgages; the integration of debtors’ struggles into a shift from the post-socialist dominance of neoliberalism to a national conservative political hegemony during the crisis years; and the political foregrounding of forex debt management in the post-2010 Orbán governments’ construction of a new financial model as part of a post-neoliberal authoritarian capitalist regime. The article traces how two main aspects of the forex mortgage crisis, housing debt under dependent financialisation and the problem of limited housing access, became integrated into Hungary’s electoral politics and macroeconomic transformation in the last decade.

21.6.2022 | Ágnes Gagyi | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 78-86 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.543
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Housing Uncertainty: Socio-economic Inequality and Forex Loans Trajectories in the Bosnian Housing Market

This article explores the nexus between the financialisation of housing and socio-economic inequality in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In this context, since the post-war economic reforms, driven by deindustrialisation, the precarisation of labour, and dependent financialisation, housing loans have become a ‘privilege’ for a restricted group of people with high and stable incomes. Instead, the housing aspirations of Bosnians are generally met with the aid of consumer loans and the ostensibly cheaper FX loans that were introduced in the mid-2000s. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data, this paper highlights the enduring features of the polarised credit market in BiH. It particularly focuses on the period after the 2008 crisis when lending policies were only mildly re-regulated. FX loans never became the object of an ad hoc law to convert them to Bosnian convertible marks. This institutional approach has been unable to challenge the extreme class segmentation of housing finance and is still fostering indebtedness and precarious housing conditions among the lower-income segments of Bosnian society even after the pandemic.

20.6.2022 | Zaira T. Lofranco | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 87-97 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.544