27 Dec 2009

Australians in record debt

4:31 pm on 27 December 2009

Australian households are in record levels of debt and for the first time have surpassed the indebtedness level seen in the United States.

Australian Reserve Bank figures show household debt - the combination of personal and mortgage debt - is equivalent to the country's gross domestic product, the ABC reports. This means every adult owes an average of $74,000.

Analysts warn the financial crisis that rocked America could hit Australian families in 2010.

Steve Keen, professor of economics at the University of Western Sydney, told the ABC an enormous proportion of income has to be devoted to paying interest.

In 1990 it would have taken families a few months to pay off their debt, Professor Keen says, but now it would take a full year.