Household Balance Sheets, Aggregate Demand and Unemployment (The Quaid-i-Azam Lecture)

Publication Year : 2011

U.S. households accumulated debt at an unprecedented pace between 2001 and 2007. In the aftermath of the housing downturn, deleveraging by highly indebted households is the most important factor responsible for the current economic slump. The deleveraging process has led to sharp drops in both aggregate demand and employment. We argue that meaningful policies aimed at facilitating debt-reduction for under-water homeowners in the short run, and replacing non-contingent debt with contingent-debt in the long run are essential for a robust and sustained recovery.