Macedonians’ Household Debt Jumps In ’08

default88At the end of 2008 Macedonians owed around 1.0 billion euros to banks in mortgage, business and other household loans, an equivalent of 500 euros for each of the country’s two million people, local media say.

This marks a significant increase from last year’s average indebtedness of an estimated 337 euros, in a country with a typical monthly salary of 250 euros and around 34 percent official unemployment.

According to the data quoted by local weekly Globus, some 38 percent of all loans are consumer loans, credits followed by mortgages and car or leasing loans.

The CEO of Stopanska Banka, Glogor Bisev said the upward credit tred is unlikely to continue in 2009, as banks increase interest rates and tighten criteria for loans mainly due to the global financial crisis.

“The availability of money for loans is shrinking. This is happening all over the world and it is happening in Macedonia too”, Bisev told the Macedonia edition of Voice of America.

Although banks say there are no signs yet that Macedonians are likely to start defaulting on their loans, Skopje University Economics professor Taki Fiti advises caution.

“With higher interest rates, people will have to be more careful when deciding on a loan,” he says.

The authorities in Macedonia so far say that the home banking system is stabile. However, companies are already struggling to maintain production and exports, and some started laying of workers to cut costs.

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