Household debt keeps expanding

The debt burden of Greek households has risen by a factor of five since 1998 and keeps growing, according to the latest figures published by the Bank of Greece yesterday. The outstanding balance of housing and consumer loans stood at 48.9 billion euros at the end of October and is certain to rise above 49 billion by the end of the year. This is equivalent to 30 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP). In GDP terms, household debt has more than tripled over the past six years, from 8.9 percent at the end of 1998. In terms of actual money, debt stood at 9.8 billion euros at the end of 1998. By comparison, household debt in Italy stood at 7.2 percent of GDP in 1998 and 14.4 percent at the end of 2003. Consumer loans were rising at an annual rate of 38.1 percent by the end of October, with the outstanding balance at 16.1 billion euros. The balance is expected to exceed 10 percent of GDP by year-end, from just 3 percent in 1998. Housing loans were rising at a rate of 22.9 percent in October, with the balance at 19.1 percent of GDP, one of the eurozone’s lowest figures.