There’s an interesting opinion piece over at the Tyee:
Canada’s Reckless Banks Inflate House Price Bubble
The story suggesting house prices were overvalue by just 20 per cent was based on a report from Fitch ratings — a company which rates mortgage backed securities. A less sanguine and more objective estimate of the overvaluation comes from a report by The Economist, which says the figure is 78 per cent as against rents (the highest in the OECD) and 34 per cent (second only to France) as against income. The U.S. is undervalued by seven per cent and 20 per cent respectively, which gives you an idea of how bad things can get when a bubble bursts, or even if a balloon deflates — the favourite analogy of the wishful thinkers.
Writer Murray Dobbin calls the banks ‘reckless’ for pulling in buyers with rock bottom interest rates, but they aren’t being reckless at all. It would be reckless to leave taxpayers money on the table when the government is so eager to give it to them via the CMHC.
He does wrap up the piece with a very clear statement of who is to blame for the mess we now find ourselves in:
Responsibility for the intractable mortgage dilemma can be laid decisively at the feet of Flaherty and his own recklessness back in 2007. That’s when he opened up the CMHC’s mortgage business to U.S. competition. We soon had the same lunacy here as they did south of the border: no down payment, 40-year sub-prime loans. That year-and-a-half experiment (Flaherty finally got scared smart and started to rein it in) is what spurred the irrational drive by so many Canadians to own a home.
Read the full article over at the Tyee.