National balance sheet accounts

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Third quarter 2011  (Previous release)

National net worth increased 1.0% to $6.5 trillion in the third quarter, a slower pace than in the second quarter (+1.3%). On a per capita basis, national net worth rose to $189,100 in the third quarter, up from $187,900 in the previous quarter.

Non-financial assets held by Canadians increased $88 billion to $6.8 trillion in the third quarter, which led the increase in national net worth. However, this rise was partly offset by the increase in Canada's net foreign debt, which was up $22.6 billion to $237.0 billion. This largely reflected a decline in the value of foreign equities with foreign stock markets weakening by more than their Canadian counterpart. These losses were moderated by the upward foreign currency revaluation effect as a result of the depreciation of the Canadian dollar against major foreign currencies during the third quarter.

National net worth

National net worth

Chart description: National net worth

Drop in share values reduces household net worth

Household net worth fell by 2.1% in the third quarter, its second quarterly decline. Although residential real-estate assets increased, this was more than offset by the decline in the value of household holdings of equities (including mutual funds) and pension assets. The Standard and Poor's / Toronto Stock Exchange composite index fell over 12% during the quarter. Per capita household net worth declined to $180,100 in the third quarter from $184,700 in the second quarter. This marked the sharpest quarterly reduction in stock prices and per capita household net worth since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Note to readers

Canadian publicly traded companies have begun their transition to International Financial Reporting Standards in the first quarter of 2011. As all companies adopt the new reporting standards over the next quarters, this will have an affect on the National balance sheet accounts (NBSA). For more information on some of these impacts, consult the article "Impact of new accounting standards on the Financial and Wealth Accounts."

The NBSA comprise the balance sheets of all sectors of the economy: the persons and unincorporated business (households), corporate, government, and non-resident sectors. They cover all national non-financial assets and financial claims and their associated liabilities outstanding in all sectors.

National net worth is national wealth less net foreign liabilities (that is, what is owed to non-residents less what non-residents owe to Canadians). Alternatively, it is the sum of the net worth of the persons and unincorporated business, corporate, and government sectors.

Household credit market debt comprises consumer credit, mortgage, and loan debt of households, non-profit institutions serving households, and unincorporated businesses.

Corporate equity is treated as a liability on the balance sheet of the corporate sector since it represents a claim by shareholders on the corporate sector. As a result, as equity prices increase, corporate net worth will tend to decline, reflecting the increase in the corporate sector's equity liabilities.

Important changes are coming to Canada's System of National Accounts (CSNA), starting in October 2012. These changes will affect all users of CSNA products and statistics such as gross domestic product, balance of payments, international investment, and input-output tables. For more information, consult the National Economic Accounts website.

Household sector assets

Household sector assets

Chart description: Household sector assets

Household credit market debt expanded in the third quarter as mortgage debt and consumer credit debt increased to $1 trillion and $448 billion, respectively. Household sector leverage increased as the ratio of credit market debt to net worth rose to 25.2% in the third quarter. The ratio of household credit market debt to personal disposable income increased to 150.8%, as debt levels increased while personal disposable income remained unchanged.

Government net debt up

Overall government net debt (expressed at book value) increased to $795 billion in the third quarter, compared with $772 billion in the second quarter. The ratio of total government net debt to gross domestic product rose slightly from 46.3% in the second quarter to 46.9% in the third quarter.

Provincial bonds were the primary contributor to the increase in total government debt in the third quarter, augmented by higher levels of federal bonds and short-term paper.

Private non-financial corporate debt to equity up

Total private non-financial corporation credit market debt to equity (expressed at book value) edged up to 55.2% in the third quarter from 54.5% in the second quarter. While both debt and equity grew during the quarter, the increase in the ratio reflected bonds and short-term paper rising at a faster rate than equity.

Corporate debt-to-equity

Corporate debt-to-equity

Chart description: Corporate debt-to-equity

Value of assets held by financial institutions decreases

Assets of lending institutions and institutional investors (such as trusteed pension plans and mutual funds) edged lower in the third quarter. The value of shares held by institutions decreased sharply in the third quarter, mirroring losses witnessed on the Canadian stock exchange. However, this impact was largely offset by the increase in the value of holdings of federal and provincial government bonds.

Available on CANSIM: tables 378-0012 to 378-0014 and 378-0049 to 378-0116.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 1806.

The National economic accounts module, accessible from the Key resource module of our website, features an up-to-date portrait of national and provincial economies and their structure.

The third quarter 2011 National Balance Sheet Accounts: Data Tables, Vol. 4, no. 3 (13-022-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

Additional tables and links to other releases from the national accounts can be found in the third quarter 2011 issue of Canadian Economic Accounts Quarterly Review, Vol. 10, no. 3 (13-010-X, free). This publication is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications. Revised estimates of the National balance sheet accounts for the first and second quarters of 2011 have been released along with those for the third quarter of 2011. These estimates incorporate new and revised source data and updated estimates of seasonal patterns.

Data for the fourth quarter will be released on March 15, 2012.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact the information officer (613-951-3640;, Income and Expenditure Accounts Division.