High credit growth, but stability in the financial system remains satisfactory
This is Norges Bank's assessment in the report Financial Stability 1/2001. The main element of uncertainty is associated with credit developments ahead and the enterprise and household sectors' debt servicing capacity in the face of a rising debt burden. This will largely depend on macroeconomic developments in Norway in the period ahead.
Total growth in credit to households, enterprises and municipalities remains high, and is clearly higher than nominal GDP growth. Growth in household debt has been higher than growth in disposable income since mid-1999. This represents a clear shift compared with the period from 1995 to mid-1999 when the debt burden exhibited a near flat trend at a relatively low level. Growth in credit to mainland enterprises has been higher than growth in operating results for several years. The debt burden has thus increased markedly in recent years. Calculations show that risk-weighted debt has not increased to the same extent. This indicates that the increase in debt has been strongest among solid enterprises so far.
Banks have posted solid results over the past two years. At the same time, growth in bank credit has been high. Developments have led to a reduction in core capital ratios, particularly in some small and medium-sized banks. These banks are still well capitalised. On balance, the banking industry appears to be exposed to moderate risk in the short run. However, it should be emphasised that risks are accumulated during upswings and become losses during downturns. In order to ensure financial stability, it is important that banks price risk adequately and make sufficient provisions in periods with solid profits and low losses.
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