Part of the state's job is to promote wealth creation that also provides public goods to enhance the broader population's life-chances. These systems for organizing economic life in a national political economy generally have to conform with widely held conceptions of how the economy should work to be legitimate and sustained. Support for the institutions that underpin citizens' welfare can be understood as a form of ‘economic patriotism’ – where there is a consistent preference for economic activity to be channelled through particular institutions that serve a defined population. This article traces the role and development of mortgage institutions in Denmark and the US. I examine the challenges to these institutions from the recent financial crisis, including calls for their abolition or reform. I suggest that economic patriotism and everyday politics explains both the origins of these institutions and also why they will persist through current domestic, regional and international politico-economic troubles.