The CIBC says its analysis suggests Canada may have a bigger household debt problem that the raw numbers suggest.
The raw numbers are bad enough. The ratio of household debt to disposable annual income has reached 153 per cent.
That's a record high for Canada and approaches the 160 per cent level that preceded the housing collapse in the United States four years ago.
But a closer look at who holds the debt shows those already above the 160 per cent line — about one-third — hold three-quarters of all the household debt.
As well, a rising share of the highly indebted are 45 years and older, a time when the opposite would be expected.
CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld says the micro analysis of debt does not point to a crash, but suggests that household spending will need to slow and will dampen economic activity going forward.