Barry Zigas

Barry Zigas is director of housing policy at Consumer Federation of America, in Washington, D.C.

Recent Articles

Restoring the Dream

The collapse of the housing bubble need not destroy homeownership as the anchor of the middle class. But we need much bolder government action.

After more than 70 years of steady and remarkable success, America's housing and homeownership policies have been rocked by the rise of subprime lending, the financial sector's subsequent collapse, and the millions of resulting mortgage delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures. Housing continues to be a drag on the recovery. The confidence Americans once had in home-ownership as a path to family wealth has been shaken. And a backward conservative narrative has capitalized on regulatory and market failures to launch an all-out assault on any government role in housing. Progressives and advocates for families and communities are struggling to make sense of the wreckage and are asking themselves what future housing policies should look like. But the very scale of the crisis provides an urgent opportunity to rethink and reset housing policy -- to learn the right lessons from the mess and to focus on the needs of both homeowners and renters. A stable and durable policy platform could...

Restoring the Dream

The collapse of the housing bubble need not destroy homeownership as the anchor of the middle class. But we need much bolder government action.

What Does Financial Capital Owe Society?

Corporate social responsibility is a worthy goal, but it's no substitute for regulation, subsidy, and government sponsorship of social institutions.

The idea that private enterprise should be harnessed to the creation of social capital is an old claim given new resonance by the financial crisis. After beggaring millions of people and threatening the global economy with ruin, banks and other credit providers surely have an obligation both to run their businesses soundly and to meet a higher standard of social responsibility. While some argue this could hobble, distract, or damage corporate focus on the bottom line, let's be clear. It was not an excess of attention to social needs that caused the near total collapse of the world's financial system but almost every other kind of excess. Milton Friedman defined the classic position against corporate social responsibility in an oft-quoted 1970 New York Times Magazine article, where he stated flatly that a corporate executive's responsibility is "to conduct the business in accordance with [shareholders'] desires, which generally will be to make as much as possible while conforming to...