Roughly 60% of the Chilean population is in debt, according to a study published this week by the country's Central Bank. And perhaps surprisingly, middle class Chileans account for about 67% of the debt.
About 46% of Chileans have debts, often through their credit cards, with shops, malls, supermarkets and car companies. About 15% have mortgage debts. The number of families in debt is worrying, said the Central Bank's President, José de Gregorio. ''Wariness about when and how to spend your money is always good," he said. "It's important for families to know what they can afford before starting any kind of financial transaction.'' The amount of indebtedness should be no surprise, given the fact that, according to a 2007 survey published earlier this month by Chile's National Statistics Institute (INE), 80 percent of the Chilean population spends more money than they earn. "People overspend their income because of the financial disorder that exists in many poor Chilean homes," said Universidad de Chile economist David Bravo. "During 2007 costs went up but income didn't" he said. The study also shows that many banks and businesses have debts outside the country, and, because of the worldwide credit crunch caused by punctured housing bubble in the US, can't get new loans. This combined with high inflation could ultimately affect Chile's economic growth. The Santiago Times