House of Debt
How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again
Though the banking crisis may be the event that captured the public’s attention, Mian and Sufi argue strongly with real data that current policy is too heavily biased toward protecting banks and creditors, with the goal of increasing the flow of credit, a response that is disastrously counterproductive when the fundamental problem is actually too much debt. As their research shows, excessive household debt leads to foreclosures, which consequently causes individuals to spend less and save more. Less spending means less demand for goods, followed by declines in production and huge job losses. How do we end such a cycle? With a direct attack on debt, say Mian and Sufi. More aggressive debt forgiveness after the crash helps, but as they illustrate, we can be rid of painful bubble and bust episodes only if the financial system moves away from its reliance on inflexible debt contracts. As an example, they propose new mortgage contracts that are built on the principle of risk-sharing, a concept that would have prevented the housing bubble from emerging in the first place.
Thoroughly grounded in compelling economic evidence, House of Debt offers convincing answers to some of the most important questions facing the modern economy today: Why do severe recessions happen? Could we have prevented the Great Recession and its consequences? And what actions are needed to prevent such crises going forward?