UK Accounting Glossary
For a company, the debt ratio indicates the relationship between capital supplied by outsiders and capital supplied by shareholders. Often the debt ratio is computed as total debt (both current and long-term) divided by total assets. Thus if a company has $50,000 in debt and assets of $100,000, its debt ratio is 50%. The debt ratio is also calculated as total debt/shareholders’ equity, long-term debt/shareholders’ equity, and in other ways. However computed, the debt ratio provides insight into the firm’s capital structure and will vary across industries. A low debt ratio isn’t necessarily best: If a company can earn a greater return on debt than its cost, the firm should borrow more and raise its debt ratio — provided the debt burden won’t be crushing when business slows. Turning to consumers, the debt ratio is often shorthand for the “debt to income” ratio, i.e., an individual’s monthly minimum debt payments divided by monthly gross income. The debt ratio is monitored by credit card companies and determines the consumer’s ability to obtain additional credit.
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This glossary post was last updated: 7th February 2020.