Lower debt levels suggest improving economy

Fewer debts are being sent to collectors, which credit checking company Dun & Bradstreet says is further evidence of stronger economic conditions.

D&B's latest data shows most of New Zealand's debt is still being carried by younger people – debtors aged 25-44 were accountable for 50% of referrals made in Q3.

Those aged 18-24 accounted for 23%. 

D&B's latest survey shows the total value and number of debt referrals to collectors has declined in the 12 months to the September quarter.

The total number of referrals received by D&B dropped 25%, while the value of those debts was 12% lower.

D&B's economic adviser Stephen Koukoulas says the decline fits in with a broader set of economic data for New Zealand.

"High debt and low savings have been unwelcome characteristics of New Zealand's household sector for many years.

"However, the recent trends in the latest debt referral data suggest a step in the right direction," he says.

Regionally, the biggest decline in debt referrals was in Christchurch, dropping 34% for the year to September.

Wellington decreased 17%, while Auckland experienced the smallest decline with 14%.

Auckland also bucked the national trend by increasing the value of its debt referrals.

Mr Koukoulas says the general economic picture in New Zealand is positive, and growth can be expected in 2013 with the help of low interest rates and a buoyant housing market.

"That said, we still see some caution from consumers as they increasingly look to scale back on their debt positions, especially with the unemployment rate still relatively high." 

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If govt debt falls / private debt rises.

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