Household debt swells to record high

OTTAWA Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:26am EST

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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The debt burden on Canadian households rose to a record high in the third quarter as mortgage and consumer credit increased but the net worth of households fell, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday.

The ratio of household credit-market debt, which includes mortgages, consumer credit and loans, to disposable income rose to 150.8 percent from 148.5 percent in the second quarter.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said on Monday that Canadians are now more indebted than their American and British counterparts and that household debt was the biggest, home-grown risk to the financial system.

Carney and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty say they are worried Canadians are sinking too deeply into debt as a result of very low interest rates, exposing them to the possibility of bankruptcy if they were to lose their jobs or if home prices were to fall sharply.

The Bank of Canada warned earlier this year that the number of Canadians who were vulnerable to an adverse economic shock had risen to its highest level in nine years.

Most economists, however, don't expect debt levels in Canada to spiral out of control.

"We expect credit growth to continue to moderate during the forecast horizon, which combined with our expectation of only modest increases in interest rates starting in the second half of 2012, should keep the costs of servicing the elevated debt loads manageable," said David Onyett-Jeffries, economist at RBC Economics.

Household net worth fell by 2.1 percent in the third quarter, its second straight quarterly decline. Canadians held more assets in the form of real estate but the value of their stocks and pensions fell.

National net worth - which includes households, corporations, governments and nonresidents - rose 1 percent to C$6.5 trillion ($6.31 trillion). Net worth grew in the corporate sector and fell in the government sector.

On a per capita basis, net worth rose to C$189,100 from


($1=$1.03 Canadian)

(Reporting By Louise Egan; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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Comments (1)
what do you expect, the rich get richer, and the middle class get poorer.
There are a lot less middle class than richer (greedier) class.
All the CEO’s board of directors have mandated that they receive their returns no matter what, even if it means lay offs or more important NO wage increases. I do not understand what makes them deserving to receive such a gigantic bonus or pay increase when they are just doing their job, just like the hard workers, who work for them. If I had my way, all increases and bonus percentage should be for all employees not just for top management, without us they would not succeed

Dec 14, 2011 11:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
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