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The Rise in Consumer Credit and Bankruptcy: Cause for Concern?

  • James MacGee

    (University of Western Ontario)

Canadian households are saddled with unprecedented amounts of debt. As a percentage of income, debt levels of Canadians are higher than at any point in recent history and are now higher than those of American households. Recent debates have largely focussed on the housing market and on the risks associated with household mortgage debt. This report looks more specifically at consumer credit – i.e., automobile loans, credit card debt, and lines of credit, most notably – and personal bankruptcies. Consumer credit accounts for roughly 45 percent of total household interest payments and often offers variable interest rates, leaving borrowers more vulnerable to higher interest rates. Further, the rapid extension and use of relatively new consumer credit products, especially home equity lines of credit, raises real concerns about whether lenders and borrowers have been overly optimistic in regards to the risks associated with high consumer debt levels.

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Article provided by C.D. Howe Institute in its journal C.D. Howe Institute Commentary.

Volume (Year): (2012)
Issue (Month): 346 (April)
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:cdh:commen:346
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  1. William B.P. Robson, 2012. "What to do About Seniors' Benefits in Canada: the Case for letting Recipients Take Richer Payments Later," e-briefs 131, C.D. Howe Institute.
  2. Kristopher Gerardi & Andreas Lehnert & Shane M. Sherlund & Paul Willen, 2008. "Making Sense of the Subprime Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(2 (Fall)), pages 69-159.
  3. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2006. "Accounting for the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies," Discussion Papers 06-001, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  4. Shubhasis Dey & Ramdane Djoudad & Yaz Terajima, 2008. "A Tool for Assessing Financial Vulnerabilities in the Household Sector," Bank of Canada Review, Bank of Canada, vol. 2008(Summer), pages 47-56.
  5. Kartik Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2011. "A quantitative theory of information and unsecured credit," Working Paper 08-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  6. James P. Feehan, 2012. "Newfoundland's Electricity Options: Making the Right Choice Requires and Efficient Pricing Regime," e-briefs 129, C.D. Howe Institute.
  7. Jason Allen, 2011. "Competition in the Canadian Mortgage Market," Bank of Canada Review, Bank of Canada, vol. 2010(Winter), pages 1-9.
  8. Alexandre Laurin & William B.P. Robson, 2012. "Achieving Balance, Spurring Growth: A Shadow Federal Budget for 2012," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 344, March.
  9. Jim MacGee, 2010. "Not Here? Housing Market Policy and the Risk of a Housing Bust," e-briefs 105, C.D. Howe Institute.
  10. Adam Aptowitzer & Benjamin Dachis, 2012. "At the Crossroads: New Ideas for Charity Finance in Canada," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 343, March.
  11. Kartik Athreya, 2004. "Shame as it ever was : stigma and personal bankruptcy," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 1-19.
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