BoC eases broker concerns

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Brokers may be more scared by new consumer debt numbers than the Bank of Canada, with Mark Carney suggesting the slowing real estate market cancels any immediate need for a rate hike.

We are watching with great interest the sum of those policies and the effect on the evolution of household debt,” said the Central Bank governor, during a speech Monday in Nanaimo, B.C. Spiking the BoC’s overnight interest rate would be a “last line of defence” at this time.

The assessment comes on the heels of new household debt figures suggesting the Canadian average now sits at 163.4 per cent of income. That’s up from the 161.7 per cent StatsCan recorded in at the end of last year and higher that the 153 per cent the agency has been bandied about. The new, higher numbers weed out the moderating influence of non-profit organizations, which were included in that earlier household debt figure.

The figures have given rise to speculation the government will move again to tighten mortgage rules or that BoC will be forced to up its overnight rate.

The former may, in fact, be the government's only real solution if it needs to slow down mortgage debt growth, said one bank economist, pointing to the global economy and the need to keep low rates in place to protect Canada's recovery.


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