Hello friends in Regina! 😮 What a fantastic game over the weekend 🙂 Our household debt to personal disposable income in Canada is around 163% today. In the U.S. the ratio is only 140%. This ratio is greatly affected by the price of homes. The Canadian housing market has done well since the last recession, but home prices in the U.S. have fallen. So Canadian indebtedness has continued to grow while U.S. households have deleveraged which has lowered their debt to income ratio.
So why do home prices continue to climb up here? I believe there are many reasons but by far the main contributor is the monetary policy of keeping interest rates low for so long. Interest rates have been overall falling for the past 3 decades. When interest rates are lower borrowers can afford to borrow more, which they often do 🙂 And banks are willing to lend more because they only consider ratios, incomes, and whether or not the borrower can afford the minimum payments.
So with such a high debt to income ratio (163%) are we in a lot of financial risk like the U.S. was back in 2007 when their ratio was also 163% at the time? I recently read a study by an economist on TD Bank’s website (It’s in PDF format) that looks at the differences between Canadian and U.S. debt-to-income ratios and explores why they should NOT be directly compared.
The study suggests the methodologies used to calculate the ratios are different in Canada and the U.S. For example we have different ways to fund health care and tax personal incomes that should be factored into the disposable income amount. But after adjusting for various methodological differences, the Canadian indebtedness ratio in 2013 is lowered to just 156%. And instead of 140%, the U.S. ratio increases to 152%. So we’re not all that different after all 🙂
Mortgage rates have not gone up in Canada for quite some time now. But Canadian wages HAVE been increasing every year since the recession. What happens when our incomes rise, but our mortgage payments stay the same? Yup, it becomes relatively easier to service that mortgage 🙂 The interest costs we pay to own a home relative to our incomes have never been more affordable in my life 😯