Rising levels of household indebtedness have created concerns about the vulnerabilities of households to adverse economic shocks and the impact on financial stability. To assess these risks, the author presents a formal stress-testing framework that uses microdata to simulate how various economic shocks affect the distribution of the debt-service ratio (DSR) for the household sector.
February 23, 2012 Similar to the experiences in many other countries, household indebtedness in Canada has exhibited an upward trend over the past 30 years. Both mortgage and non-mortgage (consumer) credit have contributed to this development. In this article, the authors use microdata to highlight the main factors underlying the strong trend increase since the late 1990s. Favourable housing affordability, owing to factors such as income growth and low interest rates, has supported significant increases in home-ownership rates and mortgage debt. Much of the rise in consumer credit has been facilitated by higher housing values (used as collateral for loans) and financial innovation that makes it easier for households to access this credit.