Of course, when one looks at savings, the other comparison that can be made is with a broader measure of savings or national savings. Gross national saving would simply be national income minus consumption and government purchases or the sum of private and public sector saving. When this definition of saving is used, Canadian savings rates are still much higher than American ones. According to data from the IMF (World Economic Outlook Database) Canada’s gross national saving rate in 2012 was 21 percent compared 13 percent for the United States. If one goes back to the 1980s, Canada’s gross national saving rate was a bit higher than the US one and declined along with the American one until the mid 1990s. (See Figure 1) Since, the mid 1990s, Canada’s gross national saving rate has diverged from the America one – rising while the American one has fallen. Thus you have an interesting situation – since the early 1990s, personal saving rates have converged whereas gross savings rates have diverged between the two countries. It would appear that Canada has made up for its deficiency in personal savings rates with increases in private sector and public sector savings - at least prior to 2009. I suppose all that “dead cash” being accumulated by the corporate sector has been helpful.
Of course, while Canada is doing better than the United States when it comes to gross savings rates, it is in the middle of the pack when compared to the advanced economies and the G-7. Interestingly enough, we are doing almost as well as Japan, which traditionally has been known for high savings rates. As Figure 2 shows, the top performers there are Singapore, Norway, Korea (South) and Taiwan.