Category Archives: debt

Vancouver market now a national problem

Most people in Canada don’t care about the Vancouver housing market, but that doesn’t mean they would be unaffected by a bursting housing bubble here.

Canadian Business argues that what we need is a national regulator to deal with risks in the financial system:

In 2013, the International Monetary Fund called on Canada to create a federal entity with a clear mandate to monitor threats to the financial system. The IMF earlier this month scolded Ottawa for so far ignoring its advice.

The Vancouver house-price surge is exactly the sort of thing the independent agency should handle. It is a national issue: everyone knows who will be called on to clean up the mess if it bursts. The banks would feel it and likely would curb lending. CMHC would feel it because it has insured most of the mortgages Vancouverites have used to buy their inflated assets.

Unfortunately as a politician anything you could do about the housing market would most likely be political suicide. Owners are voters and nobody wants to see the value of their home drop.  Read the full article here.

Inching towards instability

Canada’s housing market is overheating.

Don’t worry, there’s no risk of a crash yet and further action by the federal government is expect to cool things down.

This according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Emanuella Enenajor.

And, perhaps more importantly, she noted that “it’s different this time” because the Federal Reserve is in the midst of gradually raising interest rates.

“Economists and investors have become numb to signs of housing excess, as the sector has defied gravity for years,” Ms. Enenajor said.

“However, as the Fed gradually exits its accommodative policy, medium-term rates in Canada could also rise.”

This, she warned, heightens the threat of a correction in Canada’s housing market.

Read the full article over at the Globe and Mail.

 

Swimming in debt and bursting with confidence

Low energy prices are a bit of a bummer for a country like Canada, but we’re not worried, we’ll always have real estate!

According to weekly polling by Nanos Research, the share of respondents expecting higher real estate prices reached the most since December 2014 last week, or 38.7 per cent. That pushed the Bloomberg Nanos Consumer Confidence Index to 54.7 last week, the highest this year, from 54.5 previously.

“The main positive driver for the forward look on the economy was the view that the value of real estate would increase,” said Nik Nanos, chairman at Ottawa-based Nanos Research Group.

The only potential downside is that young Canadian families are ‘swimming in debt.  Read the full article over at the Financial Post.

Who wants a 50 cent dollar?

With rumors of another rate cut, Rob Carrick points out 8 reasons he thinks that’s a bad idea. The very first reason? The Looney will fall even further against the US dollar.

For eight years, the Bank of Canada has been trying to encourage economic growth by lowering interest rates. It’s so not working.

In fact, lower rates are hurting a lot of people more than they’re helping. We have to at least acknowledge this as speculation of yet another rate cut grows. It could come as soon as Wednesday, which is the date of the next rate announcement from the Bank of Canada.

The central bank considers the entire economy when it sets rates. Now, let’s look at things from the point of view of everyday people. Here are eight reasons why the Bank of Canada shouldn’t cut rates any lower.

1. The dollar will fall even more: The most disruptive force in personal finance right now is the falling dollar. That’s because it’s hitting us all in a vulnerable spot – our grocery bill. Helpful for exporters, a weak loonie is a tax on families and snowbirds who must change Canadian dollars into U.S. currency. Last week, the dollar fell below 70 cents (U.S.) for the first time since 2003. A lower dollar adds downward momentum.

Read the full list over at the Globe and Mail, although a number of them are directly connected to a dropping looney.

The one group that a dropping looney should help are exporters as their products get cheaper for foreign buyers, but Jayson Myers, the head of the countries largest exporters association says don’t bother.

“Interest rates are low already. A little bit of dollar stability would be better.”

As an interesting aside, in 2002 when the CAD was hitting record lows Treasury Board President Scott Brison said it was

“a pay cut to every Canadian, a drop in our standard of living and a reflection of the fact that Canadians are getting poorer as Americans are getting richer under the watch of the government,”

Scott Brison is now a key cabinet minister and top economic aide to Trudeau.

 A hat-tip to southseacompany for the links.

Hating the mortgage-free

This is a weird story.

Guy buys a house in Toronto and pays off the mortgage in 3 years by working all of the time, living in his basement and spending little to no money.

And people are angry?

But after CBC News reported Cooper’s story late last year, reader comments flooded the internet, either praising or reviling the 30-year-old’s financial achievement.

“What is he going to do next, buy a car and sell one of his kidneys to pay for it?” snarled one reader.

An era of cheap interest rates has helped ignite an escalating and troubling household debt binge. The topic has become such a touchy one it can spark polarized opinions, finger pointing and even contempt.

Read the full article here.

Resolve to make 2016 the year of the Emergency Fund.

What’s in your emergency fund? Do you have cash on hand to get your through unexpected lean times?

Rob Carrick over at the Globe and Mail think’s it’s time to focus on building your emergency fund in 2016.

Now seems an opportune time to return to the emergency fund theme. The Bank of Canada indicated last week that it would consider using negative interest rates, an extraordinary measure already in use in some European countries, if the economy worsens significantly. Governor Stephen Poloz believes the makings of a recovery are in place, and he doesn’t expect to have to resort to negative rates. And yet, oil prices last week hit their lowest point in six years.

I took a look at our household emergency fund recently and decided we needed to up our game. How about you?

Definition of an emergency fund: Money sitting in a high-interest savings account at a bank or credit union. These accounts are insulated from the ups and downs of the stock and bond markets, and easily accessible online. Interest rates are pitiful on these accounts, but the emphasis is on safety over returns.

Read the full article here.

3.5% Fed rate in 2017?

Here’s a prediction:

“US interest rates will rise – and hit 3.5pc by the end of 2017”, The Telegraph UK

“A momentous change looms large in the US. It seems highly likely that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this week.”

“What makes the probable rise in interest rates so significant is not the size of the increase. The rate rise is likely to be a mere 0.25pc. But this would represent the first rate increase for nearly 10 years. Moreover, we all know that once rates have begun to rise, usually the process does not stop after only one increase.”

Does anyone believe we’ll see a rate increase by the Fed from 0.25% to 3.5% in the next two years?

Why so negative?

As long as our economy remains strong it shouldn’t be necessary to implement negative interest rates.

A link from southseacompany:

Bank of Canada: rates can go to -0.5 percent, but no need now

“The Bank of Canada estimated on Tuesday that it could if needed set its benchmark interest rate as low as minus 0.5 percent, but stressed that the economy was recovering as expected and it did not expect to use such unconventional monetary policy.”

Rising home prices keep Canadians from starting families.

Bull! Bull! Bull! pointed out this article in the Vancouver Sun.

The ratesupermarket.ca survey of 1,700 Canadians found 52.8 per cent of Canadians overall cannot afford to start or expand their families, with 46.4 per cent of millennials sayings their existing debt was making it impossible, even before considering a mortgage.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, thinks there’s no question household formation is being impacted by prices. “Common sense tells you it makes sense. We have an affordability crisis in large parts of the country. In these types of cases, people either stay in the basement (of their parents) but they definitely don’t buy a house. We know in the United States for sure this happened.”

Infrastructure in cities has not kept pace with density, as evidenced by some Toronto condominium developments posting signs warnings parents that their children might not be able to get into local schools because of overcrowding.

As Bull! Bull! Bull! points out, that’s not really a big deal because Vancouver isn’t a family town anyways:

that’s ok. young ppl can live in condos, ride bikes, instagram their breakfast, experiment with facial hair, smoke lots of pot and generally act like they never moved out of residence. (showers are optional). they’ll be happier anyways.

Read the full article here.

Your vote counts, we’re number 1!

So, you probably noticed some issues with the site over the last few days – mainly the comment voting system was broken.

We’ve got a temporary fix in place, so it looks like you can go back to voting on comments for now.

Meanwhile TD says BC is the most susceptible to economic shocks due to housing:

B.C. has topped TD’s list for the most financially vulnerable households in Canada for 16 years in a row. With the most expensive housing market in the country, B.C.’s households spend the largest share of their monthly budgets on paying debt, devoting 9 per cent of their income toward interest payments alone. The typical B.C. household would have to spend more than half its income in order to afford an average-priced home. Stretched affordability has meant the province has an above-average number of homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgages, TD says. Households in B.C. hold a disproportionately large share of their overall wealth in their homes, having fewer non-housing financial assets than other provinces. On the bright side, those housing assets are considerable given the soaring cost of real estate in the province. Homeowners have also adjusted to high home prices by renting out portions of their homes to cover their mortgages, TD said.

Read the full article here.