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Canadian household debt now higher than in US or UK

Jan 11, 2012 Philip Burgess

  Although the Canadian economy has fared relatively well in its emergence from the global recession, ongoing fiscal crises in Europe and the U.S. appear to be taking a toll on consumers. A report released this week by Statistics Canada shows the debt burden on Canadian households has surpassed that of the United States and the United Kingdom, reaching a record-high in the third quarter. Specifically, the ratio of household credit-market debt - including mortgages, consumer credit and loans - to disposable income grew to 150.8 percent, compared to 148.5 percent in the second quarter. The Bank of Canada reported earlier this year that the number of Canadians vulnerable to an economic shock had risen to its highest figure in nine years, Reuters reports. However, most economists do not expect consumer debt to grow 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," David Onyett-Jeffries, economist at RBC Economics, told Reuters.