As the Economist notes, a significant part of US household de-leveraging is due to mortgage default:
These transatlantic differences stem from the trajectory of private debt. Government borrowing soared everywhere after 2008 as government deficits ballooned. But in America the swelling of the public balance-sheet has mirrored a shrinking of private ones. Every category of private debt—financial, corporate and household—has fallen as a share of GDP since 2008. The financial sector’s debt is now at its 2000 level. Corporate indebtedness, never very high, has shrunk. So, more importantly, has household debt. America’s ratio of household debt to income is down by 15 percentage points from its peak in 2008, after rising by over 30 percentage points in the eight preceding years. McKinsey reckons America’s households are between a third and halfway through their debt-reduction process. They think the household-debt hangover could end by mid-2013.
Ah good, mid 2013. Remember all that crazy-talk of a lost decade? Welcome.