The Globe and Mail reports in its Tuesday edition that commercial lending by the Big Six banks has increased rapidly since the country emerged from the last financial crisis -- at a compound annual rate of roughly 9 per cent over the past eight years.
The Globe's James Bradshaw writes that the trend continued in the fourth quarter of 2018, when Canadian commercial loans were 11.3 per cent higher than a year earlier. Yet after years of aggressive expansion, the question now is how much longer banks can continue to pile on commercial loans at a rate that far outpaces the country's economic growth. There are also signals that some banks may be taking on more risk to sustain flow through their commercial loan pipelines. However, on conference call late last year, Bank of Nova Scotia's Canadian banking head, James O'Sullivan, said economists have observed that increases in business loans can typically outpace growth in nominal GDP for about a decade. The current run of good fortune began around 2012, which suggests there may be some runway left. "Our view is that this period of kind of heightened investment in businesses can and should continue," Mr. O'Sullivan said. "And that's what we're planning on."
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