House of Debt: How they (and you) caused the great recession, and how we can prevent it from happening again

House of Debt

House of Debt by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi

Authors: Atif Mian and Amir Sufi
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2014

The Great American Recession resulted in the loss of 8 million jobs between 2007 and 2009. More than 4 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, the Theodore A. Wells ’29 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, and Amir Sufi, the Chicago Board of Trade Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, reveal 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. Mian and Sufi argue strongly with data that current policy is biased toward protecting banks and creditors.

William G. Bowen and Natalie Davis receive National Humanities Medal

William Bowen (Photo by David Lubarsky)

William Bowen (Photo by David Lubarsky)

At a White House ceremony, William G. Bowen, Princeton’s 17th president, and Natalie Zemon Davis, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, Emerita, were awarded the National Humanities Medal for 2012. The medal recognizes 12 individuals for their commitment to deepening the nation’s appreciation of, as well as access to, resources in the humanities.

The National Endowment for the Humanities nominated Bowen, a professor of economics and public affairs, emeritus, for the award in recognition of his contributions to higher education and economics research in America. According to the official citation for the medal, Bowen has “used his leadership to put theories into practice and strive for new heights of academic excellence.” Bowen served as Princeton University president from 1972 to 1988.

Natalie Zemon Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis (Photo by Michael van Leur)

Davis was honored for insights into historical research, which has allowed the public to engage with history and better understand what life might have looked like for previous generations. Davis, who focuses on the social and cultural history of early modern Europe, has worked as a consultant and scriptwriter for the 1982 film Le retour de Martin Guerre, which led to the publication of her book on historical events in France in the 16th century, The Return of Martin Guerre.

Harold T. Shapiro receives National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal

Harold T. Shapiro

Harold T. Shapiro

Harold T. Shapiro (left), Princeton president emeritus
and a professor of economics and public affairs in the
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs,
was awarded the 2012 National Academy of Sciences’
Public Welfare Medal for his efforts to promote public
understanding of controversial and complex scientific
issues. The medal is awarded annually to honor extraordinary
use of science for the public good and is
considered the academy’s most prestigious award.