National Post

Canadian household credit ‘is defying gravity’
National Post

Household credit is growing at a year-over-year rate of more than 7%, the fastest seen in any economic recession in the post-war era on an inflation adjusted basis, a new CIBC Capital Markets report shows.

« It’s all about affordability. During the first six months of the year, total debt rose by $44-billion but interest payments on debt fell by $3-billion, » Benjamin Tal, economist with CIBC, said in the report. « Household credit in Canada is defying gravity. »

The mortgage market alone has grown 7.8% in the past year, reflecting a strong rebound in real estate activity.

« Current activity reflects some utilization of pent-up demand as well as a realization by home buyers that this window of low interest rates will not last forever, » he said. « In many ways, we are stealing activity from 2010 and 2011. »

Overall household debt also rose 3.4% in the first half of the year while disposable income fell 0.2%.

Also, the bad debt rate in credit cards has jumped 30% since early 2008, to 1.2%. While consumer credit has increased 7%, the number of consumer loans in major arrears has also risen to 1.7% from 1.4% in late 2008.