If the CRA caused the subprime crisis by required banks to make risky loans, they would all be bankrupt, which is not the case.
The new line we're hearing is that the financial meltdown was really the product of the Community Reinvestment Act, a piece of legislation from the late-70s that required federally-insured banks to lend throughout the areas from which they take deposits, including poor neighborhoods, which were being systematically excluded from credit. The legislation, by all accounts, worked. Now, however, conservatives are trying to argue that it's behind the crisis: If the CRA hadn't been pushing these banks to make all these unsafe loans, then the birds would still sing...
As Robert Gordon shows, however, this is crap. First, there's the timing. CRA came in 1977. The crisis came in 2007. Indeed, by 2004, the Bush administration had weakened the CRA -- and after that (though not, presumably, because of it), bubble lending really took off. Further, CRA only governs a certain class of federally insured banks. Problem is, half of the subprime loans came from mortgage companies with no CRA involvement at all. Another 25%-30% came from companies with very little CRA exposure. For those who left their abacus at home, that's 80% of the loans which were fully or largely outside CRA jurisdiction. More than that, the non-CRA mortgage firms made subprime loans at twice the rate of CRA-covered firms.