Category Archives: debt

Uh-oh Canada: Record debt threatens stability

Canadian debt is now almost triple the size of the national economy. How did we get here? A decade long housing boom!

While Canada boasts the lowest government debt load among Group-of-Seven countries, household debt is the highest of its peers, the Basel, Switzerland-based BIS said last month in its quarterly report. In September, Statistics Canada reported household liabilities rose to 100.5 percent of GDP, exceeding the size of its economy for the first time.

Canada was the only developed country showing early signs of stress in its domestic banking system amid “unusually high” credit growth relative to GDP, the BIS said.

“This debt overhang represents one thing and one thing only: a pervasive constraint on Canada’s economic growth potential,” David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc. said by phone from Toronto. “When you get to levels on total debt that makes even the Italians blush, you know you’re in a straitjacket.”

Read the full article over at Bloomberg.

Four major changes to Canadian housing rules

Vancouver home sales have plunged by about a third in the last month or so, this been largely blamed on the foreign buyer tax.

But that tax focused on the city of Vancouver isn’t the only change to the real estate market, new rules and changes have the potential to affect the wider region and the nation as a whole.  Southseacompany posted this summary from a Globe and Mail article  in the comments:

“Four major changes to Canada’s housing rules”, Globe & Mail

1. Expanding a mortgage rate stress test to all insured mortgages.

2. As of Nov. 30, the government will impose new restrictions on when it will provide insurance for low-ratio mortgages.

3. New reporting rules for the primary residence capital gains exemption.

4. The government is launching consultations on lender risk sharing.

As Canadian Mortgage Trends puts it, is this the last nail in the coffin?

NOTE: disagreements are fine, but repetitive personal attacks and insults to other posters will get you an IP ban.

Will dropping house values help affordability?

According to RBC, Vancouver just saw the biggest back to back deterioration in housing affordability in 26 years of record keeping. So for those thinking they might want to be able to afford property, they might like to hear that the Vancouver market is apparently ‘softening’ according to TD:

A new study suggests the two hottest real estate markets in Canada appear to be headed in different directions, as Vancouver softens and Toronto looks to maintain its momentum.

In a report published Tuesday, TD Bank said Vancouver has started what is expected to be a modest correction, which will be reinforced by the recent implementation of the land transfer tax on non-residents.

“Home prices are projected to decline by about 10 per cent in the region by mid-2017, before stabilizing later in the year,” TD said.

Of course even with that predicted price decline, it’s not exactly going to bring Vancouver house prices into the really ‘affordable’ range.  Read the full article here.

Canadian economy is doomed

Do low oil prices and a real estate bubble spell trouble for the future of the Canadian economy? Jared Dillian, former Lehman Brothers trader and financial writer is predicting a continuously dropping dollar with a long drawn out housing market crisis:

Unlike the US market, the mortgage market in Canada is not securitized. This means the housing crisis in Canada won’t be quick the way it was in the US (6/2007 to 3/2009).

Dillian says a long, drawn-out “death by a thousand cuts” scenario is in the cards for the Canadian housing market. And, this economic pain will probably last years.

He also notes that nearly all mortgages in Canada are “recourse mortgages” (except in Alberta). This means in-the-hole homeowners are not as likely to walk away as they were in the US housing crisis.

Is this the time that the wolf actually shows up, or just another failed prediction of doom? Read the full article and view the video interview over at Business Insider.

Bubble mostly driven by risky lending conditions

A UK firm is saying that Vancouver house prices are being primarily driven by low interest rates and lax lending standards rather than foreign buyers:

In an effort to explain why Vancouver and Toronto have experienced sharper increases in home prices compared to other Canadian cities, the paper looks at lending conditions for insured mortgages.

It states that last year in Montreal and Ottawa, about 10 percent of insured mortgages had a loan-to-income ratio of more than 450 percent.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, about 40 percent of insured mortgages were made at that risky quotient, and in Vancouver approximately 33 percent of insured mortgages had a loan-to-income ratio of more than 450 percent.

“We’re reliably informed that the mortgages in Toronto now stretch to 600% of combined gross income,” the newsletter reads. “So two people both earning $100,000 gross can borrow $1,200,000. What has really changed in the past 12 months is not a big increase in foreign buyers, but a further decline in interest rates, which has allowed lenders to relax lending standards even further.”

The paper concludes with an alarming statistic related to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).

It states that while real estate ownership-transaction costs still only account for 1.8 percent of GDP, since the first quarter of 2014 commissions on real-estate sales accounted for 21 percent of Canada’s overall gain in nominal GDP.

Read the full article in the Georgia Straight.