Southseacompany pointed out this article in Canadian Business about how the banks have become complicit in the housing bubble, which strikes us as a bit unfair since any bank would be foolish to not take part in the low risk high profit business of mortgages.
As long as government is willing to take on the majority of risk and encourage high debt loads, why should a single bank step back from that money?
In a rational world, the banks could be counted on to help contain the housing mania that has put Canada in this perilous situation. Before the early 1950s, Canada’s biggest lenders had little interest in real estate, according to Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber, the authors of Fragile by Design, a highly praised international history of the interplay between politics and banking.
That changed after William Lyon Mackenzie King created the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. at the end of the Second World War to backstop the construction of new homes for returning soldiers. Nothing stirs a banker like risk-free lending. By 1954, the banks had convinced the government to change their charters so they could join the post-War building boom. In 1992, they were cleared to buy the trusts that were the initial beneficiaries of CMHC’s backstop, triggering the consolidation that cemented today’s oligopoly.
In November 2015, the average monthly holdings of mortgages at Canada’s chartered banks exceeded $1 trillion for the first time. The figure continues to climb, reaching $1.07 trillion in December, according to the Bank of Canada’s most recent statistics. That’s more than double what the chartered banks commit to business lending.
Read the full article here.