House of Debt

  • by Atif Mian, Amir Sufi
  • Narrated by Peter Berkrot
  • 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Great American Recession resulted in the loss of eight million jobs between 2007 and 2009. More than four million homes were lost to foreclosures. Is it a coincidence that the United States witnessed a dramatic rise in household debt in the years before the recession - that the total amount of debt for American households doubled between 2000 and 2007 to $14 trillion? Definitely not. Armed with clear and powerful evidence, Atif Mian and Amir Sufi reveal in House of Debt how the Great Recession and Great Depression, as well as the current economic malaise in Europe, were caused by a large run-up in household debt followed by a significantly large drop in household spending. Though the banking crisis captured the public's attention, Mian and Sufi argue strongly with actual data that current policy is too heavily biased toward protecting banks and creditors. Increasing the flow of credit, they show, is disastrously counterproductive when the fundamental problem is too much debt. As their research shows, excessive household debt leads to foreclosures, causing 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?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Finally - sensible discussion of Great Recession

Economic research and discussion for the rest of us. Analysis of data supports theory explaining how excessive debt produces recession due to spending multipliers. Consumer spending drives 60%of GDP in USA, when leveraged debt is called in through margin calls or foreclosures then spending drops. Bailing out the banks is exalted the wrong solution.

Author presents a reasonable outline of Shared Risk lending that could alternate the present student loan crisis and fairly mitigate future crises.

Must reading for every concerned citizen.
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- Gary L Rau

A new (for me!) perspective on the banking system

The idea of banks and investors sharing the risks with borrowers when macro or system wide events take place was really interesting and novel to me. In theory at least this could be a good way to soften the crash for the people that need it the most when a crisis comes. The problem is, however, that investors would need to make these decisions prior to crisis and I think it would be hard to sway them in normal conditions.

The narration needs a bit of getting used to.
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- Camilo Echeverri Gonzalez

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-17-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios