Canadians Are Feeling the Debt Burn

Household debt in Canada, a nation generally known for moderation, has reached levels that could be qualified as excessive, Bloomberg News reported. Canadians owe C$2.16 trillion—which, as a share of gross domestic product, is the highest debt load in the Group of Seven economies. With the housing market cooling, a reckoning may be fast approaching. People are “freaking out,” even though, with interest rates not far above historical lows, “money still costs nothing,” says Scott Terrio, a Toronto-based manager at Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc., a company that specializes in insolvency. Until recently, Canada had been lauded as a bastion of sound financial management. The country of 37 million emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis, thanks in large part to the strength of its banks. But the extended run of low interest rates that followed sparked a boom in borrowing, with the ratio of debt to disposable income rising to a record 174 percent in the fourth quarter, from 148 percent a decade earlier. Read more