House of Debt



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.

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?


"It is all too easy to get wrapped up in the glamour and squalor of financial maneuvers. One forgets that the financial system is useful only to the extent that it makes the everyday economy of production, employment, consumption and capital formation work better, and avoids doing harm. Mian and Sufi...tell a powerful story about excessive debt that any reader can understand, they nail it down with careful use of data, and they have serious ideas about how to make the system better and safer. It is a splendid book.”
Robert M. Solow, Nobel Laureate, Professor of Economics at MIT

"The most important economics book of 2014. Its arguments deserve careful attention."
Lawrence Summers, Financial Times

“Atif Mian and Amir Sufi [are] our leading experts on the macroeconomic effects of private debt."
Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate, The New York Times

"The jewel of 2014 is House of Debt by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi...this work will take its place in the canon of literary economic breakthroughs"
The Independent

"A concise and powerful account of how the great recession happened and what should be done to avoid another one."
The Wall Street Journal

"Distills lessons about the crisis from their recent research into one easily digestible package."
The Economist 

Wofgang Munchau, Financial Times

National Review

"This is a profoundly important book that makes a huge range of serious empirical evidence on the financial crisis accessible to a broad readership."
Ken Rogoff, Harvard University 

"Compelling evidence..."
Henry Paulson, former U.S. Treasury Secretary

"Illuminating insight into the dangers of collateralized finance..."
Benoit Coeure, member of the European Central Bank’s Executive Board

“Most books about economics are hard going, ploddingly earnest and pretty impenetrable. This one is not. It is one of those rare pieces of work that actually contains more than one 'wow' moment."
Financial World