Canadian households are sitting on a record amount of cash, waiting to be spent. CIBC Economics’ latest report shows tens of billions in cash just sitting in accounts in Q2 2020. The increase is due to a combination of government supports, lack of places to spend, and payment deferrals.
Canadian Households Saved $90 Billion More Than Expected
Canadians are holding onto an astronomical amount of cash in their bank accounts. CIBC estimates households have saved $90 billion more than typical in Q2 2020. They estimate the amount to be equivalent to 4% of consumer spending. So suddenly everyone’s a great saver, in a country with notoriously high household debt? Not exactly.
Government Transfers Equal $2.25 For Each Dollar of Income Lost
The bank believes this is largely due to government transfers. The lost income fell $100 billion seasonally adjusted at the annual rate (SAAR) for Q2 2020. This was matched with government transfers from programs like CERB, that add up to $225 billion SAAR. To put it bluntly, the government replaced every $1 of income lost, with $2.25 in the quarter. An unprecedented event for a recession.
Canada’s Household Savings Rate Hits 28%
Combine the higher income delivery with restricted spending, and mortgage deferrals – and you get a lot of cash. Prior to the pandemic, the saving’s rate had reached 3.6% – already a worrying climb. During the pandemic, it escalated to as high as 28.2% in June. In periods of recession, savings rates tend to jump as people worry. When most places are shut down, it becomes pretty hard to spend, even if you try.
Canadian Household Savings Rate
The seasoanlly adjusted rate of household savings.Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.
A second lockdown is approaching, but another surge of excess capital is unlikely. Programs are now much more targeted, and payment deferrals aren’t raining from the sky. However, this is still a very large capital pool that’s going to need to be deployed in a more efficient manner soon. However, a more important takeaway is there’s households with massive piles of cash waiting to spend, in an economy that has fewer and fewer players by the day.
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