Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Personal Saving Rates

Greetings all, let me be the first to welcome you to December! Most of the country has likely recovered by now from the Grand National Drunk and all the football type festivities... except maybe in Saskatchewan, where they are probably still drinking to forget, as images of orange flags and the words "Too Many Men" join images of Tony Gabriel in forever haunting the wheaties!

13th man indeed! Mua ha ha... schadenfreud is such sweet splendor!

Figured I'd knock out a quick and dirty entry tonight. Cause, well, what can I say, I like my bloggin' like I like my ladies. Yeah, alright, that was low hanging... but what do you want? It's late and I'm tired. Anyway, enough of that, lets get down to business and take a quick look at personal saving rates.

Personal Saving Rates - US and Canada
Statcan released their latest GDP and economic accounts data today, or I guess technically yesterday. Regardless, GDP gets most of the press, but one of the figures that also gets some attention is the personal saving rate.

We've heard a lot about how Canadians are more prudent, ipso facto, better savers then our neighbours to the south, so I also dug up some numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce/Bureau of Economic Analysis and thought I'd do a comparison between our fine nations.

From a quick look at the graph it would seem that distinction was very much valid from the mid-70's to the mid-90's, but not so much since. In fact, for the last twelve years or so, we've been eerily similar... bouncing around the 3% mark on average, hovering around all time lows.

The Canadian rate had never dipped below 5% until 1997, but since 1999 our times above it have been few and far between. The U.S. being in much the same boat. Seems that as interest rates have been steadily declining, people have been increasing their spending on both sides of the 49th. Conversely, in the period of rising interest rates (up to 1982) people saved more and more as rates climbed in Canada, while in the U.S. they kind of plateaued around 10%.

What's it all mean? It's hard to say exactly. But before we feel too cavalier about our position in the financial world, we should realize as far as that goes we're just resting on our laurels and in fact have left ourselves just as exposed to potential credit problems as they have in the United States... particularly the younger generation(s).