Bloomberg News

Canada Household Debt Ratio Falls for Second Time From Record

June 20, 2013

The ratio of Canadian household debt to disposable income fell for a second quarter after reaching a record last year, suggesting consumers are heeding warnings about the risks of too much borrowing.

Credit-market debt such as mortgages fell to 161.8 percent of disposable income, compared with a revised 162.6 percent in the prior three-month period, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Mortgage borrowing grew at the slowest pace since the 2009 recession, the agency said.

Canadian policy makers have been trying to stem borrowing fueled by historically low interest rates out of concern the debt could destabilize the economy. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the nation’s banking regulator tightened mortgage rules last year, while the Bank of Canada is the only Group of Seven central bank warning it may raise interest rates, in part to dissuade households from taking on too much debt.

In his April monetary policy report, then-Governor Mark Carney said household credit has been moderating, in part because of the central bank’s interest-rate bias, and predicted the debt-to-income ratio would stabilize this year. The ratio hit a record 162.8 percent in the third quarter of last year.

The growth in credit market debt slowed to 0.3 percent in the first quarter from 1 percent at the end of last year, Statistics Canada said today.

National net worth rose 2.1 percent to C$7.10 trillion ($6.86 trillion) in the first quarter, Statistics Canada said, reflecting higher real estate prices. On a per capita basis, the increase was to C$202,000 from C$198,400.

The agency said today it had revised the whole data series dating back to 1990, lowering the debt ratio, after revisions to national accounts data earlier this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at targitis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net; David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net


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